A meal on wheels: Campus Dining introduces new dining options

Students+wait+outside+of+Higher+Grounds+Coffee+food+truck+for+their+orders+on+Sanford+Mall.

Jesse Barber

Students wait outside of Higher Grounds Coffee food truck for their orders on Sanford Mall.

Ansley Puckett, A&C Editor

Students will have an unexpected obstacle in their way as they walk across Sanford Mall this semester: four large trucks. 

However, the parking location is no accident. Campus Dining has partnered with four local food trucks to give students and staff alternative dining options. Betty’s Biscuits, Village Inn Pizza, Higher Grounds Coffee and the Cardinal Burger Wagon will now be parked on Sanford Mall on weekdays during peak meal hours.

Cardinal food truck on Sanford Mall. Students are required to use the Grub Hub app to purchase items from the food trucks. (Jesse Barber)

Although these partnerships are new, the restaurants are not strangers to App State and its students. 

Tina Houston, owner of Betty’s Biscuits, said the truck’s partnership comes from a long history of working with the university.

“Part of our mission and our guiding principles of my company are fun, respect, innovation and community, and (App State) really fits that community piece quite well,” Houston said. 

Not only are these new options available throughout the week, but they also originated right here in Boone and serve the Boone community when not on campus. 

According to Campus Dining, it was important to work with local restaurants in order to continue the supporting-local-business culture. 

For senior Robert Montgomery, partnering with local businesses is a great way for App State and its students to give back to the community.

“I think supporting local businesses, especially in this area, is important because I think Appalachian needs to give back to the Boone community in a lot of ways, and a lot of times we don’t do that as much as we should,” Montgomery said.

In addition to its partnership with the food trucks, Campus Dining has also partnered with the app Grubhub, an app students may have become familiar with when stuck on campus without a car.

Grubhub allows customers to order ahead and pick up orders without waiting in line. Customers must use the Grubhub app to order from the food trucks but can adjust their pick up time to fit their schedule. 

Matthew Scott, owner of Higher Grounds Coffee, informs a student of how to order on the Grub Hub app that is required for purchasing items from the food trucks. (Jesse Barber)

Houston said adjusting to using the app has had its challenges, but she believes that students are not only catching on to the new dining options, but also to a coronavirus campus.

“I think it will get better and better, which is great,” Houston said. “I think a lot of students are just figuring out how to go back to school, I mean all of this is super weird for you guys.”

Students can also view menus and order ahead on the Grubhub app at any Campus Dining location.

Haley Glover, a freshman, said using the menu feature on the app has helped her understand that she has more options than just the everyday dining hall food.

“I’ve used (Grubhub) every day. I think it is really beneficial and helpful to see the options that we have online, right in front of our faces all the time,” Glover said. 

Students can also continue to enjoy the Boone weather while eating their food truck meals outside and avoiding the crowded spaces of a dining hall. 

To Hailey White, a freshman, having the food trucks on campus makes her feel safer than having to walk into a dining hall. 

“You don’t have to interact as much, and you just order off Grubhub and go,” White said. “I haven’t really eaten much at the dining hall except for once or twice, but we’ve just been getting food trucks for the most part.”

According to Campus Dining, these partnerships will “alleviate capacity constraints for the dining halls,” but for Montgomery, the food trucks offer more than just a safer eating alternative. 

“I think it is a good idea because we have more of a variety of food,” Montgomery said. 

Looking toward the future, Houston hopes to continue to give students variety without the circumstances of a global pandemic.

 “We’re happy that they know what our business model is and trust it and dig it enough to have it on campus,” Houston said.