Dartmouth College - that hallowed, prestigious Ivy League institution of higher learning - is now home to a food truck.
It's known as The Box, and it will serve Mediterranean-style sandwiches, salads and other foods, while giving students at the Tuck School of Business a chance to manage and operate a private, for-profit business.
The Box is the brainchild of Eric Winn and Mike Parshley, students finishing their MBA degrees at Tuck. Parshley says while there are some fine restaurants in Hanover, they wanted to find a way to serve the thousands of students, staff and faculty "who are currently served only by the dining halls. We were going, wow, it would be great to get some alternative dining up here, and the quickest way to do that was, in fact, a food truck."
Even so, starting a food truck business can be costly in its own way - The Box team raised over $16,000 in a fundraiser on Kickstarter, which covered only a portion of their startup costs.
Food trucks might not be the most obvious choice in a community like Hanover, but Winn says there was no resistance from the town or the college to the idea - probably because they made a point of seeking officials' input as they developed the business concept. "They were very supportive," Winn explained. "Part of that is, we're insiders. I'm a Dartmouth alum, Mike and I are both Tuck students, our entire team is made up of Tuck and Dartmouth students. Because we're insiders, and because we're adding value to the educational platform here, there was more interest in it."
The educational mission extends into the kitchen at The Box. Executive chef Tyler Harvey says she's looking forward to teaching employees how to make healthy, light food options made from "awesome produce in the area." And, she says, the team's research and focus group testing shows that Dartmouth's community is interested in food and sustainability, which means they'll be willing to try beet hummus, lamb meatballs with harissa sauce ("my go-to meal," says Box team member Peter Shively) and other foods with which they might not be familiar. "Making ingredients like that accessible to your average consumer is something I always have in mind with my cooking."
The Box team says that while their truck is the first to set up shop in the Dartmouth area, they'd be happy to set up another there, or possibly on another campus, if The Box proves successful.