Students aim to open food truck on campus as additional dining option

Moe's Trolley is pictured here on Sept. 19, 2014. A group of students is proposing to create a new student-run food truck on campus. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily

A group of students is working to create a permanent on-campus food truck that will be fully student-operated.

The truck will provide another on-campus dining option, give students tangible business experience and promote a conversation about sustainability on-campus, according to senior Julie Sanduski. If all goes according to plan, she said they hope to open the food truck in the fall.

According to Sanduski, the idea for an on-campus food truck originated over a year ago when she and fellow senior Ryan Johnson were unsatisfied with the on-campus dining options for students without meal plans, particularly upperclassmen. This idea to create another on-campus dining option eventually became Sanduski’s senior project and the beginnings of a larger initiative, she said.

“There was really no [dining] option that is close to campus … if you’re trying to get to class fast and you just want a grab and go … and this sort of bridged to, ‘What if we did a student-run food truck?’” Sanduski said.

Overall, Sanduski says there are three major goals of the project. It hopes to operate as a student-run business, act as an affordable campus dining option and integrate itself into the community by potentially selling local products and participating in local events, according to Sanduski.

We want to provide another student-run business where students can get … hands-on learning about how to run a business, how to develop a menu and how to deal with different scenarios they might face,” Sanduski said. “On that same note, we would be adding another 30 jobs to campus.”

Ideally, the food truck will be accessible to all members of the Tufts community, including students, faculty, staff and administrators, according to Sanduski. Sanduski mentioned that food prices will ideally be in the $5-7 range.

According to Chris Wingard, another student working on the project, the project is fairly far along, and significant progress has been made over the past year.

“We have been meeting with several university officials and members of the administration … to seek approval,” Wingard, a sophomore, said. “We are also working closely with [Tufts Student Resources (TSR)], because the project would be a subsidiary of theirs and we will be receiving some funding from them.”

Sanduski explained that the process of getting approval for the project involves talking to a web of people to get all of the approval they need. She added that the groundwork for the project is done, including the business plan, branding and website.

One of the tasks left to be completed is securing fundingWingard said, which will come from three separate sources of funding.

“It will be a subsidiary of TSR, [so] we are hoping to receive approximately one third of our funding from them,” he said. “Additionally, we will be running a crowdfunding campaign, and 15 percent will come from that. We are also hoping to receive a loan from [Tufts Community Union] Senate, which is not something they usually do, but it is not unheard of.”

In terms of specific menu offerings, Wingard said that the truck will begin serving lunch and dinner, with the option of expanding to include a breakfast menu if desired. The menu will feature a rotating selection of seasonal and local items.

“We will have a few different items like sandwiches that will be mainstays on the menu, with a weekly or monthly specialty item,” Wingard said. “In addition to those offerings, we are looking into doing some sort of grain bowl, where you choose your proteins, veggies and other add-ons. We will also offer several sides, perhaps smoothies, and several grab-and-go options featuring local products.”

Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS) Co-Presidents Bethany Kirby and Whitney Miller, both sophomores, voiced their support for the proposed food truck and agreed that the truck would provide both additional dining options and an avenue for interactions between Tufts and the larger Medford and Somerville communities.

“This [food truck] would provide a space for greater interactions and connections,” Kirby and Miller told the Daily in an email. “There are many possible opportunities! LCS would welcome collaboration with the truck, especially for our Food Truck Week.