Virginia campus continues to offer food trucks

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

A food truck will come to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus every Thursday this semester from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Food trucks will return to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus for a second semester, officials said.

Officials said a food truck will come to VSTC every Thursday this semester from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Officials added they are working to offer the food trucks more frequently than the initial pilot program last semester to provide students with accessible dining options and promote a sense of community on an isolated campus.

Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president of operations, said the food trucks on VSTC are popular with students, faculty and staff, and the trucks’ presence has enhanced a “sense of community.”

“Given the consistent attendance when food trucks visited and the many enthusiastic comments shared from VSTC students, faculty and staff last spring, GW is continuing to schedule food trucks this fall semester,” Knight said in an email.

Knight said the University will increase the number of days the food trucks are on campus to two or more days each week depending on customer demand. She said participating food trucks include Jambalaya Bros and Big Red Halal this semester, and officials are considering additional food trucks to add to the program.

She said the University promoted the new dining option about twice a week on social media last spring and posted hard-copy signs in campus buildings and on the VSTC shuttle.

Knight said GW Dining and the Division of Operations expanded the dining representative program that launched last year to include a student from the School of Nursing to serve as a representative and promote the food trucks on social media. She said the representative also looks for potential new vendors to bring to campus.

Knight declined to say if the University has contracts with the food truck vendors.

Ryan Tunkel, the assistant director of admissions for the School of Nursing, said that before the University brought food trucks to VSTC, most students and faculty would purchase their lunches at Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Taco Bell at the shopping center across the street from campus but now turn to the food trucks regularly for lunch options.

“The students are definitely making use of it,” Tunkel said. “You definitely see them on the days the food trucks are here with that instead of walking around with Chick-fil-A bags or Taco Bell.”

Tunkel said because VSTC’s student population is older than the typical undergraduate student population, a full dining hall would not be beneficial because students are only on campus for lunch. He said the food trucks are able to provide a few lunch options without the cost of a dining hall space.

Four different food trucks made one-day visits to VSTC during the initial pilot program, including Poke-Man, Good Grubbin’, Urban Poutine and Ada’s Kitchen on Wheels. The food trucks stayed on campus for a few hours at a time, serving students, faculty and staff in front of Innovation and Enterprise halls. Officials said in February only one food truck was at each location for a three-hour time slot.

Food truck vendors said that while they did not enter an official contract with GW, University officials invited the vendors to come to VSTC at set locations and times in February.

Luciano Catanuso, the co-owner of From Tuscany With Love, a food truck based in Sterling, Va. that serves classic Italian food, said his food truck came to the campus at the end of the spring and was asked to return this semester.

“I think the food truck provided a sense of community,” Catanuso said.

Chris Nguyen, the co-owner of Poke-Man – a food truck based in Northern Virginia that serves Hawaiian-style food like poke and boba tea – said that after serving food on VSTC last semester, she hopes the University invites her to bring her truck back on campus.

“I think the students enjoyed having the food truck there – most of the same students came back to the truck,” Nguyen said.

Kayla Carlton, a second-year nursing student, said having the food trucks on campus creates a greater sense of community for nursing students. She said the program should continue because students enjoy having more food options within a walking distance.

VSTC has struggled to find its identity in recent years, and students and faculty have said the campus feels disconnected from the Foggy Bottom Campus.

“I think it’s a fun option, especially since we are a little more isolated,” Carlton said. “It’s a great option for people to have food quickly.”

Kayrene Pope, a first-year nursing student, said the food trucks bring a greater variety of food to the area, and that the food is affordable at about $10 per meal.

“The food truck really comes in handy,” Pope said. “It’s like right outside so you don’t have to drive anywhere.”

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