Off The Grid Food Truck & Stanford’s New Food Truck Policy: A Case of David Vs Goliath?

Last November 2012 the University of Stanford decided to create its own campus food truck program wherein all food trucks have to apply and get accreditation with the school. The policy will enforce strict regulations and compliance guidelines for food trucks in order to operate and sell inside the campus. Some of these regulations include insurance, parking, and sustainability.

The University of Stanford has hired the services of Off The Grid, a food truck festival operator from the Bay Area to run the program. In addition to these changes, the school announced that only invited food trucks will be allowed to apply for accreditation which basically means that there was a pre-qualification criteria for on campus food trucks.

According to the Assistant VP for Business Development, Susan Weinstein, the choice of food trucks was based on a variety of cuisine so there would not be duplication. Weinstein also said, “Off The Grid’s rotating schedule will bring a variety of cuisines that wasn’t possible when the same trucks came on campus every day.”

In response, there are a number of students who have been vocal against the program because their favorite food truck was not included in the short list. They vow to solicit signatures against what they call “an oligarchy” within the school’s administration.

The food truck business that these students are fighting for is Net Appetite which serves delicious Thai food. It has been a part of the Stanford campus on Santa Teresa Avenue for over 10 years. This new policy will kick them out from campus effective last January 7. According to the operator and founder of Net Appetite, theirs is a nonprofit food truck business with all profits given to the Aid to Children Without Parents organization based in Vietnam. It feeds these children 2 meals a day from the profits and donations to the food truck. They have also never violated any food safety, sanitation, or health regulation during their stay in the campus.

Net Appetite received their unsigned notice that gave them one week to pack up and leave or appeal for reconsideration. The problem was the school went on holiday break and by the time they got the letter; all available spaces were already assigned to other food trucks.