Widgets Magazine


Letter to the Editor: Stanford food truck policy changes

There have been a number of articles in The Stanford Daily recently about the new mobile food vendor policy and its impact on NetAppetit. I would like to help your readers better understand why the policy was implemented and why we are making no exceptions for any food truck.

In recent years, the number of uninvited food trucks coming on campus (of which NetAppetit is only one) has increased dramatically. With this increased interest, Stanford felt the need to ensure that the trucks serving campus operate safely and in a manner consistent with Stanford’s values – just as we do with every business operating on campus.

The mobile food vendor policies, like our policies for all food vendors, require that food trucks serving campus are properly licensed, have adequate insurance coverage and have all required health permits. We limit their locations to areas that are safe, with no equipment blocking sidewalks and with no customers at risk from passing car traffic. Trucks are not allowed to park in areas on campus where we prohibit commercial activity, such as the top of the Oval. We also want to be sure that they operate in a sustainable manner consistent with Stanford’s zero-waste guidelines. For example, they should use recyclable or compostable service ware and packaging, minimize the use of plastic and recycle their waste.

The policies apply equally to all food trucks, most of which have served campus for a number of years. We are treating all trucks in the same manner because of the importance of the health and safety of our community and in the interest of fairness.

All food trucks on campus, including NetAppetit, were provided with notice of our new requirements during the week of Nov. 26. NetAppeit received notice on Nov. 29, four weeks prior to winter closure, which began on Dec. 24, and nearly six weeks prior to the Jan. 7 implementation date.

During this time, NetAppetit did not contact any administrative office at Stanford. It did not contact Off the Grid until January 17, seven weeks after they received the notice and nearly 2 weeks after the new program was implemented. At this point, all of the slots for Winter Quarter were filled.

Off the Grid did not reject NetAppetit. Instead, it asked whether NetAppetit would be interested in working outside of Stanford and invited them to explore becoming part of its fleet of trucks. NetAppetit is also welcome to qualify with Off the Grid before the end of February in order to be placed in the rotation of trucks being scheduled at Stanford for spring quarter.

I hope this helps your readers to better understand why we have adopted the new policies and why they apply to all trucks serving campus, including NetAppetit.

Best regards,

Susan Weinstein
Assistant Vice President for Business Development

  • 2013


  • bittergradguy

    Or we could just go with a free market solution.

  • Some questions I would like answered:

    1) How much does it cost for a vendor to register with “Off the Grid?” What else do they sacrifice? Autonomy, working hours, etc. How far does OTG cut into a food trucks profits, limit their hours, etc? Was this investigated and was the popular opinion of non-registered food vendors taken into account?

    2) Was it impossible to investigate the various health qualifications without forcing the owner to register with an outside organization?

    3) Is what happened fair? Subjective question, I know. But if you look past the bureaucratic red-tape, is this the outcome the administration wanted? If not, why can’t it be changed? If you’re unhappy with an outcome, and have the power to change it, why don’t you?

  • ts1989

    If the location was really a problem, why was Stanford’s very own food truck operating at the exact same place?

    I’m not sure this strict, no-exceptions policy is a good representation of Stanford’s values.

  • poorgradstudent

    For a lot of people NetAppetit was their top choice for lunch, both in terms of the cost and taste. Since they have had a clean record for so many years, is it really worth taking this option away from the Stanford community just to follow fair procedures?

    If their location really was a problem, why was Stanford’s own food truck stationed there? What suggests that the location is an unsafe one?

    Yes it may be NetAppetit’s fault that they did not contact anyone quickly enough, but I haven’t seen a clear argument for why exceptions cannot be made. Furthermore, what’s the reason for requiring that food trucks register with Off the Grid? Weren’t some of these food trucks already registered with Off the Grid beforehand, thereby making it unfair for food trucks like NetAppetit?

  • John

    If you go to OTG website there is no provision for applying for the Stanford location. You have to join the fleet and OTG will rotate you to whatever location available. Yes, all current trucks in the rotation at Stanford joined the fleet way before the new policy is in place. Just ask them

  • A disappointed student

    No Susan, we understand perfectly well. The increasingly incompetent Stanford dining was unable to fairly compete with an quality food provider on their doorstep, so they used monopolistic power to bully them off campus. I know you’re not going to read this comment and even if you did you would just disregard this genuine flesh-and-blood student’s opinion as a nagging voice in your ear, but you are making the universe a slightly worse place. Thanks for being honest with us about it though, we really appreciate it.

  • Gilbert

    Where can we find the new Stanford food truck policy, should we choose to read it ourselves?

  • HarveyMunchkin
  • HarveyMunchkin

    This is a painfully unpopular policy. What will it take to change it?

  • sadstaff

    I’m glad this issue is getting a larger public airing. My favorite truck (good food and inexpensive) is no longer available. I emailed to the Powers That Be back in December and received no reply. The painful price point/serving size of the available trucks has me packing pb&j most days now. Thanks for not actually taking all levels of the campus community into consideration, Administration.

  • Robert