This past Thursday students were offered to get a taste of Portland, and they ended up coming back for seconds. The Taste of Portland event was the first of its kind at USM. The event featured tables and food trucks from various businesses around Portland to showcase some of the city’s popular eats and students loved it.
“Obviously I went to the Taste of Portland for the free food, but I think it turned out great,” said senior political science major Brittany Hill,. “A lot of students at USM don’t get the Portland culinary experience,and hopefully this event will encourage them to check it out.”
Students got to sample delicious food and drink from Gusto’s Italian Food, Portside Picnic, Hella Good Tacos, Aramark, Coffee by Design, Capt’n Eli’s Soda, Leonardo’s Pizza, Margarita’s, Wannawaf, Binga’s, Papa John’s and Black Bear Energy Drinks. Students, both new and returning, filled the lawn in front of Glickman Library to experience why Portland is a great city for foodies.
“One of the things we think about when we plan USM events is that students love free food, and Portland is known for this food truck phenomenon. Student love these food trucks so this year we thought ‘why not try something different?’ and it’s been widely more popular than we could’ve imagined,” said Chris O’Connor, the director of Portland Student Life. A few of the vendors had to leave early because it was so busy that they ran out of food. According to O’Connor Binga’s Wyngas had 240 wraps that they went through in the first 40 minutes!
Taste of Portland was part of a series of events planned by Portland Student Life for USM’s welcome week. These events included a family day, a movie showing and of course Husky Fest which, according to O’Connor, was the biggest it’s ever been. Husky Fest had over 1,000 students visiting tables featuring 55 student organizations, 25 campus departments and 30 community vendors.
Students also got the chance to vote for their favorites. Everyone who attended filled out a ballot where they voted for the best Taste of Portland. Students who voted were put into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore. There will also be a plaque made for the winning business.
“Wannawaf was my favorite,” said senior political science major and student body vice president Marpheen Chann-Berry,. “Fries, wraps and pizza are things you find a lot in Portland, but waffles and breakfast with a twist? That’s something different and it stuck out.”
While most of the lines accumulated at the pizza vendors, all of the tables were very well received, with students often visiting more than one vendor.
“I visited about four vendors so far and for now Gusto’s wins my vote,” said undeclared freshman Connor Hamilton. “I had my eye on their pizza cones because that is college food right there. You could easily take that pizza cone and enjoy while walking to school, or rushing to class in some cases, and still get a meal in.”
The event was open to the public and anyone was welcome. Community members and alumni were also in attendance.“We heard about this event from a student, and I was pretty excited about it,” said Portland resident Brooke Hayne. “I haven’t even heard of some of the businesses so I thought I’d come by and see what their food was like.”
The vendors also enjoyed the event and thought it was a great opportunity to interact with the community while promoting their products. The event was packed with student and alumni, jamming out to music, catching up with friends and sampling some great food.
“I didn’t think we’d give away this much pizza as fast as we did, lots of people have been coming by,” said Curtis Scott from Leonardo’s Pizza. ”We’re getting the votes I think, people seem to be giving us the wink and nod as they come over.”
Students may be familiar with the coffee flavor Husky Blend from Coffee By Design. Tessa Storey, an employee at Coffee By Design had a table promoting a new blend called “Beans of Peace.” A dollar from every bag bought is donated to St. Elizabeth’s Essential Pantry, a local organization dedicated to feeding the needy in Portland.
“Students basically run on caffeine, and it’s great to give students one of their favorite drinks while letting them know about our special roast coffee,” said Storey. “If you buy here you’re buying local so all the money is going right back into the community.”
O’Connor believes that visitors of this event got a chance to see why Portland is an excellent destination for food lovers. It was an experience so popular that he’s planning it to be a USM tradition and it will surely be coming back next year.