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

Industry News & Opinion
k-12

The School Nutrition Foundation —the School Nutrition Association’s philanthropic sibling—and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign have partnered to launch an initiative called Schools as Nutrition Hubs.

“No Kid Hungry really sees schools as a critical place in the fight against childhood hunger,” says Laura Hatch, director of national partnerships for No Kid Hungry. “Schools are really a no-brainer because they have the infrastructure, they have the experience, it’s a trusted place for families. And being able to maximize their programs and maximize the federal...

Ideas and Innovation
walk-in cooler

The walk-in cooler can serve as a gathering place for more than just produce. When temperatures rise, staff at Empire State South restaurant in Atlanta host meetings in the walk-in and make occasional trips to hang out throughout the day to beat the back-of-house heat.

Menu Development
college students eating

Taste may reign supreme when college students choose their next snack, but operators should also pay attention to factors such as price and portion size. Here are the most important attributes students consider when choosing snacks, according to Technomic’s 2017 College and University Consumer Trend Report .

Taste: 78%

Ability to satisfy my appetite between meals: 67%

Price: 64%

Portion size: 54%

Familiarity: 46%

Overall nutrition value: 40%

Protein content: 36%

All-natural ingredients: 29%

Fiber content: 27%

...

Managing Your Business
student shame
“We allow students to charge meals at all levels; even in high school, they can charge a certain number of meals. [After that is met,] they are given an alternate meal,” Sharon Glosson, executive director of school nutrition services for North East Independent School District, says. Elementary students can charge up to $15 of meals; middle schoolers can charge $10; and high schoolers can charge $5. “Ultimately, [food services is] carrying out the policy but we’re not necessarily the creators of the policy, or have the final say on the policy, because that budget decision has to be made by the...

FSD Resources