Food trucks at Muhlenberg

Lehigh Valley vendors park in Parent’s Plaza, providing students with more dining options

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The menu of Greek Street, one of the many food trucks that frequent Muhlenberg's campus. // Photo by Sarah Wedeking '24

This semester, the Muhlenberg Dining Services management team introduced food trucks on campus. These food trucks are based in the Lehigh Valley and each have their own unique menus ranging from Mexican to Greek food.

Many students have been excited about these new dining options. Erin Foertsch, Muhlenberg Dining Services’ marketing director, talks about the way that these outside vendors fit in with the parameters set by the College’s Sodexo dining services. “For the most part, vendors are able to offer their own unique menus. We only like to ensure that each menu offers a complete meal—a variety of entrees, sides and beverages. It has been great to see students get excited about what each food truck offers,” stated Foertsch.

“The food trucks provide some unique options to campus dining but at a price that feels unreasonable.”

– Ryan Dratler ‘24

Some students, however, are concerned about the prices of the food at these trucks. Ryan Dratler ‘24 stated, “The food trucks provide some unique options to campus dining but at a price that feels unreasonable.” His concern is shared with other students on campus, especially those that are outside of the majority of students who have a meal plan. Aubrey Flurer, a continuing education student, speaks on the food trucks saying, “Given the fact that I am a continuing studies student, it is really difficult knowing that I have to pay out of my own pocket to be able to afford getting anything of different varieties.”

The food trucks accept Dining Dollars and ‘Berg Bucks as payment, and are parked out in Parents Plaza throughout the week. Some have wondered about whether the popularity of the food trucks would increase if they began to accept swipes instead of dining dollars. John Pasquarello, the general manager for Dining Services, responded to this question, saying, “We are currently accepting Dining Dollars as part of the program, and because we have never placed a dollar value on a swipe, it is unlikely using swipes will be part of any retail program offered on campus. This is the current practice at The GQ, Java Joe and the Life Sports Center Cafe and the use of swipes exclusively in the Wood Dining Commons and the Mule Express will likely continue in the future.”

Ava Duskic ‘23 mentioned her personal experiences with the food trucks on campus and how it has allowed her to gain vegetarian options for different meals. “The food trucks offered a lot more variety to Muhlenberg’s campus, especially the full vegetarian truck, which is always nice. However, it is definitely a splurge, and it would be much more accessible if we could use swipes, instead of just GQ money, to pay for a meal,” Duskic mentioned.

It has been made apparent throughout the semester that there has been immense pressure placed on the Muhlenberg College dining staff. While students have been asking for more options, Dining Services have been struggling with supply shortages and understaffing. The students on campus are very grateful for all of the hard work that has been put into making their dining experience the best that it can be. Providing these food trucks was a way to both relieve the dining staff slightly and provide more variety for students. Peter Stark, the operations manager for Dining Services spoke on this topic, saying, “Some days we have served over 150 customers at the food truck who may have opted to eat in the Wood Dining Commons or General’s Quarters. Students have been very appreciative of the additional choices.” 

“Some days we have served over 150 customers at the food truck who may have opted to eat in the Wood Dining Commons or General’s Quarters. Students have been very appreciative of the additional choices.”

– Peter Stark

Foertsch elaborated on the food industry in the larger area of the Lehigh Valley, saying, “We spent a lot of time researching and calling food trucks based in the Lehigh Valley. Like the rest of the food service industry, many food trucks are also struggling with staffing and food shortages. Food trucks were selected based on their own availability.” The experiences of the dining staff is a common one, especially during the pandemic. The food service industry is severely understaffed all over, not just on college campuses. 

Speaking on whether there will be food trucks for the spring semester, Pasquarello said, “We will evaluate the relationship we have with food truck vendors at the beginning of the spring semester to determine if they will continue. If there is a need for additional services we will be looking to provide them in the spring.”

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