August 23, 2012
August 27, 2012

College students heading back to campus may notice some culinary changes. As food trucks become more popular among the college set, some on-campus dining programs are fighting outside competition by launching their own mobile eateries.

As food trucks become an increasingly popular NYC lunch option, the number of trucks on the street are growing as well. What happens if two trucks want the same spot?

The University of California, Riverside, the Culinary Chameleon, a bright green food truck launched in January that regularly changes its menu, doesn’t advertise itself as college-run.  A food truck was originally invited on campus only for a trial period to gauge student interest in food-truck dining. Having a truck of their own gives them the flexibility to respond directly to their students, rather than working with off-campus vendors to address student requests.

College officials say running their own food trucks brings in more revenue for the universities. They also can tailor menus to fit the student body. The University of Texas at Dallas plans to debut its first food truck this fall, featuring a fusion menu of Asian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisines to reflect the school’s large number of international students, who make up 19% of the student body.

Companies that manage food services for universities, say they have seen an increase in demand for college-run food trucks, especially as a way to offer late-night dining options and serve remote areas of campus.

In total, nearly 100 colleges have their own university-run food trucks, compared with only about a dozen five years ago.

Many universities don’t allow outside food trucks to come onto campus. But some, grant limited access to select independent vendors. Some colleges don’t take a cut of the vendors’ revenue or profit, but charges a flat rate for the trucks to park.

The University of Washington sidestepped competition by launching several of its own food trucks in 2010, early on in the food truck frenzy. Even if it’s raining, there are still long lines.

Some universities that run their own food trucks allow students to pay for meals by swiping their dining-hall I.D. cards, but other colleges haven’t yet installed that technology. Even universities that allow independent food trucks on campus sometimes let them collect dining-hall dollars from students.

Source:, 8.21.2012

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