By ISABELLE LINK, Staff Reporter |
Amarillo College students say they are hungry for increased food choices. Last fall, Chick-Fil-A’s exclusive contract with AC ended, giving the college an opportunity to try to create more lunch options by inviting food trucks to campus. At the same time, the Student Government Association conducted a survey to see if students had concerns about having more food choices. The survey revealed that they do. Despite this, Chic-Fil-A remains the only food vendor on an AC campus.
Jaci Smithson, a business major, has been attending AC for a year and said she hasn’t heard any news about boosting campus food choices. “It doesn’t feel like it’s a priority for the school,” Smithson said.
Steve Smith, the vice president of business affairs, said the lack of food options is not due to lack of effort. “In the past six months, Amarillo College has placed two public requests for proposals (RFP) to food truck vendors to see if they were interested in serving food at Amarillo College.”
Smith said the only food truck vendor that responded to either of these attempts was Chick-Fil-A.
“The second time I personally called every permitted food vendor to let them know that we had placed the request in the ‘Amarillo Globe News’ and how to respond to it,” he said.
Gina Mancuso, co-owner of the Amarillo Downtown Food Truck Park, said she is aware of only one truck that received a request from Amarillo College. Mancuso also said that the vendor didn’t see any benefit to parking on campus because of the college’s extensive requirements. “AC required so much more as far as insurance and other regulatory stuff that they just didn’t want to bother because it would cost more than they would ever make,” she said.
AC’s request for proposals also stated that food truck owners would have to pay to park their trucks on campus, although an amount was not specified.
“The college has a valuable resource, space and potential customer traffic,” Smith said. “This does not come to us for free nor would we want to give it away for free. Revenue from charging rent allows the college to keep our costs down,” he said.
Amarillo city code does not require a property owner to charge rent to food trucks, but trucks aren’t allowed to park without the property owner’s permission, Smith said.
“I think if AC wants trucks, they shouldn’t charge them,” Mancuso said. “Most food trucks are on shoestring budgets and have trucks so they aren’t held down by paying rent.”
Juan Cueto, a graphic design major, said he thinks charging food trucks to park on campus is unnecessary. “They aren’t renting a part of the building like Palace. They are mobile,” Cueto said.
Cesar Rodriguez, a computer science major, agreed, saying, “The vendors will just park somewhere else and sell somewhere else completely free.”