Food trucks give free meals to students in need

Sophomore Alexandra Salimsakchi took it all in and beamed. In her campus food truck, she offered meals for free or at a rate students preferred.

when and where

Aggie Eats is open On weekdays when classes are held, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, we will rotate at the following four locations: East Quad, Student Health Wellness Center, Storer Hall, West Village.

everyday place Subject to change. Check the schedule here.

The International Relations major was one of the first dozen students to be serviced last week during a practice run of the new AggieEats food truck. The food truck is believed to be the first and only one in the nation to offer free meals on college campuses.

“This is perfect,” said Salim Sakchi when the sauce and zucchini pasta he ordered was ready. “I’m studying budgeting this year because I don’t have time to cook.

“I have a spreadsheet where I enter my expenses.” For lunch, there will be fewer.

AggieEats is a partnership between the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, Student Housing and Meal Services, and the Office of Student Services, as part of a comprehensive effort to address student food insecurity. The truck will serve up to 500 meals a day from 11am on weekdays when classes are held. Today (April 18th) was the second day of full service.

needs among students

Sophomore Alexandra Sarimsakci is looking forward to the pasta dishes she orders from the AggieEats food truck. (Julia Ann Easley/University of California, Davis)

A recent University of California survey found that nearly two in five undergraduates and one in five graduate students at the University of California, Davis have limited access to nutritionally adequate and safe food. It turned out that they felt they had low or very low food security, defined as being uncertain. The Hope Center for Colleges, Community and Justice found that of the 195,000 respondents to the Fall 2020 survey, 39% of respondents from 130 two-year institutions and 29 from four-year institutions 10% said they had been affected by food insecurity in the past 30 days. to the investigation.

Since opening in Memorial Union in June 2018, Aggie Compass has been at the forefront of meeting basic needs, offering a complete range of services to support housing and food security, including free food distribution. We provide services. Fruit & Veggie Up on Mondays and Wednesdays! provide agricultural products. The center has partnered with UC Davis associate unit The Pantry and Yolo Food Bank to provide hundreds of pounds of food each week as the Eat Well Yolo Site. Aggie Compass also helps students apply for her CalFresh aid for groceries.

Why Food Truck?

Food trucks not only expand the availability of free food without requiring campus building space, but also add prepared meal options to already available fresh produce, groceries and other food assistance To do.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Pablo Regelin said the campus came up with the idea of ​​using the popular food truck model to combat the negative image that can occur when asking for help.

“We’ve wanted to have multiple options for dealing with stigma,” he said. “I think this is going to be a game changer. It’s revolutionary.”

AggieEats is launched with support from anonymous donors and campus funds.


AggieEats daily specials include vegetarian options. (Julia Ann Easley/University of California, Davis)

Leslie Kemp, director of the UC Davis Basic Needs Initiative and Aggie Compass, said students don’t need any qualifications to get the meals. You can also secretly pay the amount you want when you place an order using your smartphone. “We don’t want to turn anyone away, but we do want to market this service to those who may be most food insecure,” Kemp said, adding that the outreach will target student community resources. It added that it is aimed at Center and Aggie Compass and Pantry users.

The bright green track, decorated with colorful fruit and vegetable images, cycles through four locations on campus: the East Quad, the Student Health and Wellness Center, Storer Hall, and the West Village. The itinerary is posted on his website at AggieEats, and a menu with vegetarian options will be posted there soon as well. Gai Yan chicken with steamed jasmine rice and broccoli, or pulled pork with chipotle pinto beans and coriander rice?

Meals served through AggieEats are freshly prepared in Dining Services’ Culinary Support Center on campus, and the team completes preparation and assembly of food in the truck’s kitchen, which uses solar and battery power.

Kemp said Dining Services would be an ideal partner for the project. “They offer quality food, are on campus and can handle large amounts of food,” she added. “We are really excited to partner with Student Housing and Dining Services and their talented chefs.”

AggieEats’ food truck coordinator, Jesus “Sal” Ramirez, prepares the food for the first day of full service on Monday (April 17). (Karin Higgins/University of California, Davis)

the chef knew about food insecurity

For Jesús “Sal” Ramirez, who was hired in January as a kitchen car coordinator, getting delicious, healthy food into the bellies of well-to-do students is a personal thing. He is an immigrant and experienced food shortages as a child. After he dropped out of high school, he studied to obtain a high school diploma. Mr. Ramirez started working in the kitchen as a dishwasher and became a chef in 2015 after gaining over 20 years of experience in restaurants, catering, personal service and corporate catering.

“I’m excited to start something new and important,” he said. “There are many jobs in the world, but few that satisfy my heart.”

Bianca Toumat, a second-year food science student, will be serving two meals out the window of her AggieEats food truck on Monday (April 17), the first day of full service. (Karin Higgins/University of California, Davis)

students help students

16 students have been recruited to the AggieEats team. In addition to providing meals, they also help connect students to Aggie Compass, grocery CalFresh assistance, and other campus resources.

All will be trained in safe food handling before working on the truck, Ramirez said, and at least some will be trained and tested behind the wheel of the 24-foot truck.

Sophomore Bianca Tomat was active in practice and on the first day of full service. She came to the University of California, Davis from Marseille, France to study her food science, and she found the opportunity on a job search platform for students. “I knew immediately that it would help her colleagues,” she said.

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