Food trucks may return to campus as early as this fall
Dining Services is currently working on developing a new plan to get food trucks back on campus, as early as the end of the fall 2017 semester.
Through the food truck pilot program, which ran last spring, six trucks were brought in with the St. Louis Food Truck Association, with one truck parking outside of the Danforth University Center each Tuesday at lunchtime. The initiative sparked interest among many undergraduate students, who would stand in the line that sometimes stretched to the DUC’s front entrance.
The program was potentially scheduled to make a return this fall; however, due to a variety issues, including concerns regarding technology, health and safety, Dining Services decided to halt the initiative until a more reliable program could be developed.
According to Dining Services Manager Paul Schimmele, one of the main concerns of the food truck initiative is making it accessible for all students while not undercutting the meal plan.
“One of the big driving things—and what made the challenge for us in relation to technology—is that our belief was that if we were going to bring a truck on to campus, that every student needed to be able to participate; not just ones that have extra spending money,” Schimmele said.
While using meal points as a way to pay for food at the trucks made it easy for everyone to take part in the program, Bon Appetit sales declined as a result of the initiative.
Schimmele said that Bon Appetit has been an understanding partner throughout the whole program and noted that their sales should not suffer because of the trucks.
“Bon Appetit has been an incredibly supportive partner in this, but as good partners, the University also needs to make sure that we are not undermining the meal plan,” Schimmele said. “They don’t need to profit off of a truck coming, but they can’t lose money off of its presence here.”
Dining Services has considered switching the pay plan to Bear Bucks. Schimmele, however, has some hesitations with this option, as he doesn’t feel that it’s fair to students who don’t have as much money to spend.
In the future, the food truck program will continue to partner with the St. Louis Food Truck Association, as the association has a wide selection of trucks, including Steak Louie and Mission Taco, both part of the program in the spring. The association also requires its trucks to have health inspections and insurance, both which have received approval from Dining Services.
Schimmele believes that as soon as the economic challenges of the program have been resolved, the food truck program will begin again and, hopefully, remain a permanent part of campus life.
Bombay Food Junkies was one of the best received trucks to come to campus, according to Schimmele. Chef and owner Krupa Panchal found that the food truck initiative was just as exciting for her as it was for students and said she is eagerly awaiting the call to be invited back to campus.
“Bombay is open to it. It was a really, really good experience,” Panchal said, “We didn’t think even one bit that we did less business or anything less of that sort because our food speaks for itself. Everybody loved it, and there were people who came back in line—and people who emailed us later and let us know how good it was and how much they enjoyed it.”