The University of Connecticut’s newest meals on wheels – Food for Thought and The Blue Cow ice cream truck – have been received well in the few weeks since their debut, according to Dining Services.
“I think both trucks have just been really well received by the community and people are excited," dining services assistant director of retail operations Charles Couture said. "I knew they were up-and-coming, cool things but I think the way they’ve been received has really surprised me."
Starting at 11 a.m., the Blue Cow truck parks on Fairfield Way. When Fairfield Way is occupied for large events, UConn Athletics allows the truck to park outside of Gampel Pavilion.
“So far the center of campus has been the best spot for the trucks, even at night,” Couture said.
The truck departs Fairfield Way around 6:30 p.m. and makes its journey to different spots around campus until 8 p.m. It has made stops at South campus, Charter Oak Apartments, Hilltop Apartments and on-campus sporting events.
While the truck does not cater sporting events, Dining Services was granted permission by UConn Athletics to park in the vicinity of the venue so that students can grab a sweet treat before games. Student groups can also contact Dining Services to reserve the truck for their events, Couture said.
The Blue Cow truck serves nine flavors, selected from the most popular flavors served at the UConn Dairy Bar: chocolate, banilla, Husky Tracks, mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, coffee espresso crunch and raspberry sorbet. Customers have a choice of a cup or cone, with the option of one or two scoops. Sundaes are also available, along with extra topping choices.
President Susan Herbst requested that the Blue Cow truck make trips to UConn’s branch campuses, Couture said. That process is underway, with the plan set for the truck to visit each branch once during the course of the semester, aligning to special events each campus has planned.
“The great thing about having four wheels and shutters is that you can shut it down and go if there’s a bigger event that we need to be at; we can just move whenever we need to,” Couture said.
The food truck, Food for Thought, is typically busier than the Blue Cow truck, which was an expected outcome. Food for Thought is serving its intended purpose of allowing people to grab a bite to eat without waiting in long lunch lines at the Union, Couture said.
Currently, Food for Thought serves an array of tacos, rotated on a weekly schedule, with gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian options always available. Customers get two tacos per order with choice of a flour or corn tortilla. The most popular so far are the Thai Taco, Baja Taco and Cabo Beach Taco. The truck also serves chips and salsa and Apple Crisp Churros.
While both trucks accept cash, credit (MasterCard or Visa) or Husky Bucks, they do not accept meal plan points.
“I’d like to see more options for the Food for Thought truck. If it was only going to serve tacos and salsa, it should’ve been named something more appropriate,” said Ilyas Tomasati, a third-semester pre-med student.
But the truck will not be restricted to tacos; eventually the menu will change to other meal options.
“We will change up the menu as time goes on,” dining services executive director Dennis Pierce said.
Food for Thought has made appearances at events both on and off campus, in addition to its regular spot on Fairfield Way during the week. The truck has even gone to Depot Campus, which holds a small population of UConn employees and graduate students.
There are no dining facilities at Depot Campus and people were so excited to have the truck on site that dining services wants to make Depot a regular stop, according to Couture.
While off-campus events are sometimes serviced by the trucks, it is not an easy process to go off-campus often. There are many codes and regulations in different health districts and some require extra permits, which can get pricey, Pierce said.
Both trucks have brought in a combined total of about 30 new student employees, with two students working on each truck at a time.
“We’re just, right now, feeling out where the crowds are and where it’s going to be well received for both trucks,” Couture said.