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.

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