They line the streets, offering a countless number of cuisine choices from around the world, providing some of the finest sights, smells and tastes on Main Campus. Philadelphia is rated by Mobile-Cuisine.com as the 17th best city in the country to own one.
Food trucks are undeniably a part of Temple and while many students love them, some worry about their sanitation and cleanliness.
When I first arrived at Temple, I was overwhelmed by all of the food choices. There were many trucks that offered adventurous food options that I had never even heard of before.
Fortunately, I had heard all about the delicious alternatives to everyday meal plan options and I decided to give the trucks a shot. I was not disappointed – some of my best meals have been from food trucks.
I hear some students say food trucks are not as sanitary as other eateries like sit-down restaurants or more traditional stands like the Bagel Hut.
“I just feel like they would be dirty,” Tom Keenan, a freshman biology major, said.
What many students do not realize is that food trucks are held to the same sanitation regulations as any other eatery in the state.
Pennsylvania’s food code refers to a food establishment as “a room, building or place or portion thereof or vehicle maintained, used or operated for the purpose of commercially storing, packaging, making, cooking, mixing, processing, bottling, baking, canning, freezing, packing or otherwise preparing, transporting or handling food.”
That means the Sexy Green Truck and the Creperie are held to the same state standards as the Student Center or the Morgan Hall food courts, places students frequently visit for meals.
The Halal Philly Steaks truck across the street from the Student Center is a popular place to grab a bite on Main Campus. Customers are able to purchase foods like falafel, as well as other Halal and Middle Eastern foods.
In response to growing restrictions on food trucks around the world, a 2014 study by the Institute for Justice examined “thousands of food safety inspection reports from seven cities, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Seattle, Washington D.C. and in every one, food trucks and carts did as well, or even better, than restaurants.”
Food trucks in Philadelphia are not exempt from these high standards. Owners are subject to yearly inspections in order to continue their license to operate, and new food trucks are required to undergo plan review requirements.
Beyond these basic safety regulations, the Mobile Food Vending Unit-Plan Submission Guide requires certain routines like having a location vendors can go to each business day in order to pick up fresh food and cleaning supplies.
In other words, food cannot just be left inside the trucks overnight; it must be stored in a regulated and agreed-upon location.
Other requirements have also been mandated over time – lists of equipment are now required in order for the Office of Food Protection to know what is in the truck for health reasons as well as safety reasons.
Many students, like myself, have no issue with food truck cleanliness, believing their experiences and endorsements from other students are enough to show that the food trucks meet the same standards of health that other places on Main Campus do.
“I think on a college campus they’re certainly clean, because they have a reputation to keep up in competition with tons of other local restaurants and dining halls in the area and the fact that they don’t take Diamond Dollars means they have to stay efficient to bring in good business,” Layla Rivera, a freshman theater major said.
Rivera is not alone.
“The food is really good [at the food trucks] and you can see your food being cooked right in front of you, as opposed to many big restaurants where you can’t see [the food being prepared],” Tanvir Saurav, a mechanical engineering major, said.
The owner of Halal Philly Steaks called his business helpful to students, because of the affordability of his $5 meal option.
Though concerns for food truck sanitation continue to exist, food trucks have a very strong reputation for cleanliness.
Temple students, especially, can feel safe eating at food trucks – Philadelphia is rarely cited as an example of unsafe health conditions in food trucks. In fact, Mobile-Cuisine.com credited Philadelphia as the city where food truck culture really began to take off.
Food Network stars like Jose Garces even own food trucks in the area – the Distrito Taco Truck has a permanent weekend spot at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Food trucks have become a viable option for every entrepreneur with a creative recipe. Philadelphia is one of the best cities for food trucks – sanitation scores are constantly improving and the city is one of the most flexible for allowing trucks in the city and main campus has a plethora to choose from.
The trucks provide a diverse array of food choices that students can enjoy without having to worry about unclean or unmonitored meals, all with the advantages of regular restaurants, With so many different options, we have the opportunity to add a little spice to our food routines – and we should.
Vince Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @VinceTNF