Anatomy of a Food Truck, University of California, Riverside

Department wanted equipment that would be flexible if the menu changed.

What makes a successful food truck? FSD spoke to Gustavo Plascencia, general manager of safety, sustainability and projects for Dining Services at the University of California, Riverside, about his department's food truck, the Culinary Chameleon. Plascencia walked FSD through the thinking and practicalities behind each element of the truck and how those elements make it a success.

Snapshots, UCR, Food Truck, full view
The Culinary Chameleon came to UCR's campus in January and has been serving hungry students Mexican favorites ever since. Plascencia says a lot of research went into it deciding what the department needed to make the truck happen.

"It turned out our county is one of only two counties in the state of California that do not allow food trucks," Plascencia says. "However, we are a state entity so we follow the state food code that does allow food trucks, so that’s what allowed us to have a truck on campus even though no other trucks are allowed in the county."


More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
woman surprise

When I joined the staff at FoodService Director in the spring of 2015, I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn about the intricacies of the industry. My past experience, from kindergarten to my college days to on-the-job meals, would lead me to believe that noncommercial dining was a kind of automated process—an amenity that’s expected, and one you only become aware of if something goes wrong.

But as with my own household chores, there are no magical elves making sure the business of feeding students, seniors and hospital patients is done, and done well. Foodservice...

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

FSD Resources