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Davis, California

Friday, July 12, 2024

Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center introduces pay-as-you-can food truck

The AggieEats food truck provides free and low-cost food to students in initiative to address on-campus food insecurity


By JADE BELL — campus@theaggie.org

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On April 17, the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center introduced the pay-as-you-can AggieEats food truck, which is part of a program designed to “increase student access to delicious, nutritious, healthy food and other basic needs resources,” according to its website. 

Leslie Kemp, the director of the UC Davis Basic Needs Initiative and the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, said that ordering from the food truck is a simple process: pay what feels comfortable for you — even if the price you’re willing to pay is $0.

“Basically, students just stand outside the truck, scan a QR code, look at the menu, decide how much they can pay for their meal and the order goes in,” Kemp said. “If you can’t pay, enjoy some free food. If you’ve got some extra, pay it forward. Either way, you leave with a full stomach and hopefully the feeling that we’re all in this together.”

The food truck provides healthy and freshly prepared food from UC Davis dining commons kitchens in addition to offering recovered food, such as produce, sandwiches and other food that didn’t sell in campus markets. It serves up to 500 meals a day and has a four-week rotating menu. 

Kraig Brady, the executive director of Dining Services at UC Davis, shared his and his colleagues’ thought process when developing AggieEats.

“We were brainstorming how to put forth a program to provide a real solution to food insecurity and one common denominator was that we have plenty of kitchens,” Brady said. “So we were asking ourselves, ‘Could we use our existing infrastructure to produce enough food to distribute and make a difference? And what would that look like?’ We realized that food trucks are all around campus and are very well-received.”

Brianne Yale, a third-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major, shared her thoughts on the new food truck initiative.

“It’s reassuring to know there is an option,” Yale said. “My bus was 20 minutes late, so I just came here and that was really helpful.”

Kemp said that while the project is going well so far, there are some issues that she foresees arising in the long term. She noted that funding will be an ongoing issue, but said that currently, funding for the next year has been secured.

“I think funding is always going to be a challenge,” Kemp said. “For the next year, we’ll be funded by an anonymous donor who approached the school, but after that, it will be a challenge we have to figure out.”

The food truck will be posted at four different locations around campus Monday through Friday. These locations change every week, and it’s recommended to check the website for any location updates. The truck accepts credit, debit or ApplePay via smartphone, according to their website, and the amount you choose to pay is confidential.


Written by: Jade Bell — campus@theaggie.org