From food truck to tech startup, Indo-US Bhavini Patel now running for US Congress

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From food truck to tech startup, Indo-US Bhavini Patel now running for US Congress
Washington: From helping her single parent mother running a food truck “India on Wheels” in Pittsburgh to launching a tech startup after completing her education from the Oxford University, Indian American Bhavini Patel is now running for US House of Representatives. Patel, 30, last year on October 2 announced her decision to run for the Congress from the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, which is currently held by her Democratic Party colleague Summer Lee.

Notably, Congresswoman Lee is one of the few lawmakers who had boycotted the historic Joint Address to the US Congress by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June last year. Preparing for her first hurdle of the primary, scheduled for April 23, Patel has raised over USD 310,000, of which she says roughly 70 per cent has been raised from within the State.

“It’s truly emblematic of the community and the needs of the community. We’ve earned several labour union endorsements including support from the steamfitters, the operating engineers, and SMART, which is a railroad transportation union. When we think about support from the unions, that’s a really big deal, especially coming from Western Pennsylvania where there’s such a strong history of the power of the labour movement,” Patel told PTI in a recent interview.

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In addition to that, she has also got endorsements from roughly 33 elected officials, including mayors of small towns as well as members of council in those areas. Patel is a die-hard Biden supporter. “To be quite honest, I think he’s one of our most progressive presidents that we’ve seen” she said, referring to some of the key bills that his administration has been able to deliver, including infrastructure bill, Inflation Reduction Act, and Chips and Sciences Act.

Originally from Gujarat in India, her mother came to this country as an immigrant. “She came to this country with very little, which I think is a story that resonates with many people in the Indian diaspora here in this country. When she came here, she raised my brother and me as a single parent. We moved around quite a bit, to various different cities, and she worked various odd jobs, washing dishes in the restaurant industry, working in the motel industry,” Patel said.

“Then she eventually came to Monroeville, which is a small suburb in western Pennsylvania, and that’s where she started a small catering business, supplying samosas and various other pastries to the local Patel brothers there. From there she started a food truck business. So, my family has been running food trucks for the last 25 years,” she said.

“It’s called India on Wheels. In many ways, that is my story. I grew up working in that family food truck business, grew up on Pitts campus, ran the serving window, helped out on the weekends with catering, and then at some point decided that I wanted to attend the University of Pittsburgh,” she said.
Patel soon became the first in her family to graduate from college. “Then I earned a scholarship to get my master’s at the University of Oxford. Since then I have been involved in various different public service efforts. When I think about the Indian diaspora, I think about the power of that story. To me, that’s so much, it’s very much so emblematic of the American dream.


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