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Food Trucks Pull Into Campus

University Business, October 2012
Every three weeks, menu items rotate for The Flying Bison food truck located at Bucknell U.
Every three weeks, menu items rotate for The Flying Bison food truck located at Bucknell U.

The food truck craze that’s hit cities large and small across the nation has made its way to college and university campuses, offering up new dining options in new spots with more hours. Bringing a food truck to campus isn’t as easy as throwing in an oven and hoping students are hungry, though. It takes serious planning, but it’s worth it, shares John Cummins, general manager of residential dining for Parkhurst Dining, who brainstormed The Flying Bison food truck at Bucknell University (Pa.) for more than two years before the converted laundry truck became operational this spring.

At Bowdoin College (Maine), three students were inspired to take matters into their own hands when they realized there was plenty of demand for, and essentially no supply of, late night eating options in the sleepy town of Brunswick.

Junior Steve Borukhin and seniors Eric Edelman and Isaac Brower opened Campus Food Trucks, Inc. last spring after working with administrators for six months, developing their independent contractor relationship and getting plans approved. “I think this would have happened without us, but maybe not at the same speed,” shares Edelman. “Student entrepreneurship has really taken off at Bowdoin in the last year. [Our truck] is a very public symbol that entrepreneurship can be successful on campus.”

Allen Delong, director of student life and student activities, worked with the students, who also now run the truck, during the process. “If they wanted to be entrepreneurs, we certainly wanted to provide a space and be supportive, but we didn’t want it to be an extension of our dining operations,” he says. “It’s really exciting for me to have worked with these three students because we don’t have a business program at Bowdoin. For them to say, ‘here’s what we want to do, we’re going to staff it ourselves and write a business model and figure this out’ has been really innovative for us as a college and for the student body.”

Among some of the other institutions catching food truck fever are Mercyhurst University (Pa.); the University of California, Riverside; the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg; the University of Houston, and the University of San Diego. And at Babson College (Mass.), students can follow in the steps of Bowdoin’s Borukhin, Edelman, and Brower by enrolling in “The Food Truck Industry,” a course devoted to all things meals on wheels.