Food trucks have been an alternative option to the Dockside Café for the past two years, however, plans for trucks at Whatcom Community College this year are still in the works.
According to Mike Ryan, Head of Dining Services at Whatcom, the school has been bringing in trucks since 2017, and much organization and effort goes into maintaining a solid business relationship with the trucks.
“We’ve worked with Puget Sound Food Hub and the Washington State Food Truck Association,” which include restaurants and trucks to ensure proper business and sanitation practices, recruitment of trucks, and profitability.
Ryan said that Dining Services will look for “affordability, variety, attention to different dietary restrictions, and pride in the product.”
He said he hopes to schedule “one or two food truck days on campus,” in which several trucks will be available at the same time. This business model will allow for variety and for the students to be more aware of the trucks’ presence.
Dining Services takes many risks on each food truck visit, and hopes to ensure “profitability for all parties,” according to Ryan.
According to Ryan, Whatcom “had to implement sales minimums,” in which Dining Services would have to reimburse the businesses if an agreed-upon profit quota wasn’t met during the truck’s visit to Whatcom.
Additionally, the Dockside Café has to be closed for the duration of the trucks’ stays to ensure maximum food sales, Ryan said.
To offset any potential profit loss from closing Dockside, Ryan said “the school itself gets a cut of the earnings for the day. There’s a lot of hands in the pie.”
Tara Johnson of, co-chef and operator of Sage Against the Machine, a local plant-based food truck opened in 2017, believes the experience with Whatcom last year was “very positive [and] since [then] we’ve had a pretty good number of repeat customers and good reviews.” Most of whom, she says, are meat-eaters.
Johnson said that there is a very good market for vegan food in Bellingham. She and her husband and co-chef, Nate Johnson, they started Sage to provide cost-effective and delicious options for those who adhere to a plant-based diet, or just want to try something new.
Despite being entirely plant-based, Sage’s menu provides many meat-friendly flavors. Their burritos, “Notchos,” mac-n-cheese, and barbecue jackfruit sandwich were all big hits on campus in 2018, according to Johnson.
Students Kyla Smith and Jesse Uong haven’t yet eaten from a food truck on campus, but say they are hoping for a taco truck.
Julia Hagin, who works in the Entry & Advising Office in Laidlaw Center, said she has had an overall positive experience with trucks on campus.
“I bring a bag lunch almost every day, and the trucks are a good treat every once in a while.”
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