Are School Districts Embracing Food Trucks?

Published in FSD Update

One school district is using a food truck as a concessions stand and summer feeding vehicle.

Food trucks, we’ve seen, are all the rage on college campuses. Even smaller campuses, such as Princeton University in New Jersey, are finding uses for food trucks—in Princeton’s case, as a mobile concessions stand for sporting events and as a portable kitchen for catering gigs.

But in my research into this trend, I’ve been surprised to discover that some school districts have begun to explore food trucks as a viable foodservice option. Most recently, I read about a food truck that will make its debut this summer in the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District in Newman, Calif.

The truck is the dream of Finance Director Caralyn Mendoza, who manages the district’s foodservice program. She told the West Side Index & Gustine Press-Standard that the project, two years in the making, is an attempt to “elevate the (Orestimba) high school to more of a college-type campus.”

The truck, painted in the purple and gold color scheme of the high school, will first be used to extend and expand the district’s summer feeding program. The truck, Mendoza says, will allow the district to reach students in Pioneer Park and Crows Landing, where summer meals had never been provided, and to extend the program by another month.

Come fall, the truck will serve as a concessions stand at Warrior Stadium and for special events. She adds that she isn’t planning on using the truck on a daily basis but acknowledges that it could become a regular fixture on campus “if it looks like it will increase our numbers and doesn’t deter from other services areas on campus.”

I have heard of other school districts also using food trucks as vehicles for summer feeding programs, but I wonder whether there are operators who view mobile foodservice as Mendoza does. If you are a school foodservice director who has a vision—or who already has exercised the vision—of a more mobile foodservice program, I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an email at pking@cspnet.com and tell me about your food truck and how you use it. We’ll profile some of the more interesting uses later in the year.

Keywords: 
grab and go

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

FSD Resources