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 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.

grab and go

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
regions hospital exterior

One of our new concepts, YumMarket, is a play off our YumPower brand that we have out in the community. We use YumPower in K-12 schools, and there’s a kiosk in a nearby minor league ballpark. We feature only better-for-you choices, such as fresh-made pizzas, sandwiches and healthy grain salads. We want people to know we are taking care of people here the same way we are in the overall community.

Ideas and Innovation
herb garden wall

In high-volume operations, few look at herb gardens as the end-all-be-all budgeting solution. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a return on the investment. The value, operators say, is in the message herb gardens and herb walls send—that an operation uses ingredients that are fresh, sustainable and healthy. Here’s how the growing areas have paid off at three operations.

A cafeteria wall at Miles River Middle School in South Hamilton, Mass., houses three rows of hydroponic lettuce spearheaded by an interdisciplinary group of health, science, math, technology and foodservice employees...
Managing Your Business
restaurant uniforms illustration

The standard foodservice uniform has undergone a makeover. Whether to make the job more appealing or extend personality to the guest, restaurants are allowing workers to express their individuality through what they wear, from T-shirts to bandannas to hipster-style aprons. Even in more conservative operations, staff can show their personality through uniforms, now offered in a wide range of colors, fits and styles. In choosing uniforms, operators also are weighing the message their workers’ wear sends, be it one of culinary skill and expertise, or a sense of camaraderie with the community...

Ideas and Innovation
rooster illustration

Sustainability is such a priority for Santa Rosa Junior College’s culinary arts program that produce often doesn’t even hit the cooler before becoming a meal. Students quickly transform the bounty of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and more, harvested from the college’s own farm, into restaurant-quality dishes at the Culinary Cafe and Bakery. They learn the basics of agriculture, practice pivoting a menu based on seasonality, and compost as they cook.

It’s little wonder the program recently placed first in the CAFE/Kendall College Green Awards: This Northern California community...

FSD Resources