Struggling to please a generation of students who grew up on restaurant fare, university food service directors are now facing a new challenge — food trucks.
Already a major factor in many urban dining markets, food truck operators are eager to exploit on-campus locations.
College-run dining services, justifiably concerned about the potential competition, are scrambling to find strategies that capitalize on this new brand of mobile food service without cannibalizing their current operations.
Some institutions have taken a “join ’em” approach, fielding their own fleet of food trucks.
Other schools, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, license local food truck vendors to sell on campus
In exchange for access to students, the vendors pay MIT a percentage of their daily sales and agree to certain restrictions on menu, location, and advertising.
Mobile food trucks have demonstrated their value in bringing food to where students are during the day, rather than making them come to central dining hall locations.
The result has been better participation, happier students, and another revenue stream for cash-hungry college administrations.