By Kyeland Jackson–
Students are receiving a surprise twice a week, as food trucks are springing up around campus. With options such as Boss Hog’s BBQ, Mark’s Feed Store, The Traveling Kitchen and others, students are rushing in droves for a new food option between classes.
Offering payments options like Cardinal Cash, Flex Points and Tapingo to order food, the trucks have become a hot commodity for those who find them. However, this is not the first time food trucks have arrived on campus. The university plans to ensure it is not the last.
Initially, food trucks were not allowed on campus. Sodexo is the primary dining service operator for students and does not give free reign to outside food services. However, the Student Government Association collaborated with Sodexo to contract food trucks on campus. SGA and Sodexo predict the food trucks will stimulate campus and bring a number of benefits to the university and its students.
Matti Verder, resident district manager of Sodexo, helped organize the partnership with SGA and the food trucks. “It’s a real great way to support local business,” Verder said, explaining that it will bolster both the university and local businesses as a new source of income.
“It’s an opportunity to provide another service to the students,” Verder says. “From the student perspective, we’ve had great success so far.”
As of now, the trucks are on a trial period to test their effectiveness, but the horizon seems bright for their future. Verder hopes to bring back the food trucks after spring break.
“Expect food trucks to have a much larger presence in the spring semester,” Giannini says.
Despite the popularity of the new food trucks, Sodexo will not forget the pre-existing businesses. Sodexo wants to give students more food choices while allowing local businesses to continue profiting.
Ricky Giannini is the owner of one food truck, Sweet ‘N’ Savory. The truck hums dully behind him as a student orders a crepe. Giannini says that food trucks at U of L are “probably one of the biggest things to happen to food trucks since they were legalized in Louisville.”
Food trucks are a relatively new staple in the city. Giannini recalls trucks in operation in the 1990s, but until 2010, there were no health and operation standards for food trucks.
With those standards, he feels these food trucks are being accepted as legitimate dining locations in Louisville. Food trucks like Sweet ‘N’ Savory have another benefit: culturing and educating students with a variety of food options.
U of L students are hungry for new options. Emily Kreutzjans, a freshman accounting major, uses the Tapingo app and enjoys the option to use flex points. “It’s a lot easier to use flex (points) than cash,” Kreutzjans says. “I’m more likely to go to places that use flex.”
Junior Ryan Long, is enthusiastic about the food trucks. He sees them as a welcome addition to campus food choices for students and desires more local involvement alongside the partnership. “I hope it includes the university reaching out to the community,” Long says.
As the food trucks adjust to student schedules and locations, they are tempered by the approaching winter season. Most of the food trucks do not operate during the winter and will begin their hiatus around Thanksgiving.
Photo courtesy / @sweetnsavorylou