By: Cullen McIntyre, Editor-in-Chief
Parked outside of Luther Bonney lies USM’s newest dining service on wheels. The newly acquired food truck currently offers hot meals Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tadd Stone, General Manager of Sodexo at USM, said that Sodexo was “looking for a dining option that would be available to use even after the new student center/café were complete.”
For Stone and Sodexo, the new food truck is more than just a solution to the current dining experience on the Portland campus, the truck offers mobility and potential to move around campus. “For years we have been looking for ways to try to bring food to events like games, convocations, open houses, move in day, etc. We figured if we were investing in a dining venue, that we should get one that would be able to be used for years to come,” said Stone.
The truck was acquired for 107k dollars, according to Stone, Sodexo used funds from their Facility Enhancement Fund they created to “provide innovation and creativity for dining each year we move forward in our partnership.” Stone added, “Every year, we have money set aside to be able to reinvest in the program in order to keep it current.”
The food truck cannot be missed in its current home on the Portland campus. The smell of food finds its way from Luther Bonney all the way down to Payson Smith. The brightly colored truck spouting “Hungry Huskies” can be spotted at a distance, but what is more noticeable is the traffic of students ordering food.
Senior and media studies major Jacob Currie has enjoyed the food truck on campus. Often stopping by after a class at lunchtime, Currie finds the truck to be a great option. “I like it, the food is great. When I don’t bring anything it’s nice to have,” he said.
Students like Currie can order from the new food truck at it’s window, using meal swipes, dining dollars or a credit card, or on the Bite App. The Bite App is preferred, said Stone, as it “allows us time to prepare and stagger the food. The Bite App also links with your meal plan so there is less time wasted having to deal with payment when you are standing out at the truck.”
Currie hopes the menu expands, and as Stone notes, the menu will be fluctuating. “The truck was built so that we could adapt our menu daily, if needed. We started with items that students have been asking for like burgers, chicken tenders, fries, salads, quesadillas, etc, and we will adapt as we see the trends move or receive requests,” Stone said. He added that the truck has cooking equipment that rivals some smaller kitchens, and that offers them the ability to have such a versatile menu. Stone hopes to have a daily special on the menu as well, like “Mac and Cheese Monday” and “Taco Tuesday” to give the menu variety.
For students interested in offering feedback on the menu and truck, Stone invites all to attend the Culinary Council Meeting that takes place on the second Thursday of each month at 1:00 p.m. Stone can be reached directly at [email protected] to get more information.
While the location of the food truck is currently locked in on the Portland campus for the foreseeable future, Stone added the intention is to see the truck at campus events on all campuses. “We are excited to work with groups on campus to feature the food truck more prominently once the dining hall is open,” he said. “We picture the truck at baseball and softball games having traditional concessions food, featuring smores and hot chocolate at campus sponsored sledding parties, serving hot clam chowder and lobster bisque at Homecoming and more.”