WARSAW — Students and faculty at Ivy Tech Community College now have another option when it comes to lunch – food trucks.
The campus does not have a traditional cafeteria. In the past, the approximately 800 students and 100 faculty and staff members could bring their own lunch, purchase items like pop, juice or chips from the vending machines on campus or go somewhere off site to purchase lunch.
William Smith, associate vice chancellor of student services, and Michael Slavkin, interim campus president and department chair of public and social services, were not satisfied with that. “It just wasn’t what we needed,” Slavkin stated.
They decided to explore some new options.
“Even though there are restaurants over on 15, there is nothing directly next to campus,” said Slavkin. “We wanted something accessible.”
Smith did some research and came up with the idea of inviting food trucks to the campus. He approached some food truck vendors and was met with a positive response.
In early September food trucks began being scheduled to come to the campus parking lot during lunch hours.
According to Slavkin, it has been a win-win situation.
“We allow the vendors to park out front. We aren’t out any money. From the standpoint of the students, faculty and staff, they don’t have to get in their car and drive somewhere for lunch. They can just walk out here and get their food. Most of the vendors have stated that more people than they expected have shown up and it has been successful for them. It is working for everyone.”
“What we have found, since we started this in early September, is that people in the community are also coming to the food trucks. So now not only is this benefiting our students, but also it is attracting people from Medtronic, Banner Medical and Madison Elementary. They are coming over so we are kind of seeing a little community form, especially on BBQ days when you can really smell the BBQ,” says Slavkin. He continues, “Any opportunity we have that we can meet the students’ needs and can invite the community in, we enjoy that. It has brought people together. At any given time you can see at least four or five people in the parking lot. It has created this sort of gathering of people hanging out and eating and talking.”
No one is more excited about this than Slavkin and Smith.
“As a community college for the community, we want the community on our campus,” enthuses Smith.
“A lot of people come to the food trucks for lunch and say something like ‘Oh, I’ve never been over here’ or ‘I’ve never seen the building’ so we invite them in and we’ve done a couple of tours,” reports Slavkin. “Anything we can do to help the community feel like this is their college, we’re happy to do that.”
The trucks are on campus from approximately 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
There is a food truck schedule with a specific vendor scheduled for each day. The schedule can change from month to month.
It is anticipated that some of the food trucks will continue to come even during the winter months. The vendors will be bringing their food items inside and will use the student lounge area to set up and serve food.
Stacy Naugler, from Chatterbox Food Truck based out of Syracuse, said it has been a lot of fun and she feels that the students enjoy it.
Slavkin sums it up by saying, “The ultimate goal for all of this is to make the campus as friendly and hospitable as possible.”