April 25 will be a far cry from your typical Charter Friday.
For the first time in recent history, all 11 eating clubs have united to organize a fundraiser aimed at fighting food insecurity in Mercer County, N.J.,by selling — quite fittingly — “street food.”
Dubbed TruckFest, the event will feature 11 food trucks from the surrounding area, including New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York. The idea of TruckFest was born seven months ago, when the community service chairs from the different eating clubs came together to brainstorm possible events for the annual Inter Club Community Fundraiser.According to Justin Ziegler ’16, one of the organizers of TruckFest and a member of the Pace Council for Civic Values, the ICCF traditionally entailed each club hosting its own members-only event. The proceeds from all of the clubs were then pooled to support a single cause that the officers of the clubs had agreed upon previously.Unlike the events from earlier years though, a major goal this year was to create a more public fundraiser and raise a larger contribution.
Austin Sanders ’14, another primary organizer of TruckFest, suggested the idea of having an event similar to “Truckeroo,” a food truck fair in Washington, D.C. Truckeroo began as a monthly summer festival in 2011 and brought 17 food trucks and over 18,000 people to its first event, according to its Facebook page. Although the Princeton event will not cater to as large of an audience, the organizers said that they hope it will bring together both campus and town involvement.
“We wanted to do something that brought together the students and the town, and this seemed like a good way to do that — as a big festival,” Sanders said.
TruckFest will feature free performances by two student bands: Gorilla Gorilla and Caroline Reese & the Drifting Fifth.Students and community members can nosh on a variety of artery-clogging, ambrosial goodness, ranging from sweet treats by Undrgrnd Donuts to hotdogs from The Dapper Dog. More of a green and lean kind of person? There will also be a variety of healthier options including gluten-free cupcakes, wraps and Princeton’s own Tico’s Eatery and Juice Bar stand.
With the slogan “The Alternative Prospect 11,” TruckFest puts a playful twist on a Princeton tradition. Rather than going to all of the eating clubs in one night, the goal of “The Alternative Prospect 11” is to stop at all of the food trucks.
“We might have a punch card, because for each club, a truck is associated with it. So we might have a punch card that represents each club and each truck, and if you go to all the trucks, then you’ve done the ‘Food Truck Prospect 11,’” Sanders said.
Planned by the Interclub Council, the Pace Council for Civic Values and the Princeton Prospect Foundation, TruckFest will donate all proceeds to the Send Hunger Packing Initiative — a collaboration between the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. The initiative provides qualifying low-income schoolchildren with backpacks filled with nutritional, kid-friendly meals for the weekends. According to Feeding America's most recent study, 15.6 percent of children are food insecure in Mercer County. Only 63 percent of that food insecure group are eligible for nutrition programs, which means their family's income is at or below 185 percent poverty ($42,642.50 for a family of four).
“We decided that — we’re eating clubs, we’re doing food trucks, let’s focus on food insecurity,” Ziegler said. “The more important reason is that it’s a really great cause that needs the money … We’re supporting local efforts to fight hunger that need the money now, and I think that’s the most special part.”
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of TruckFest is that most likely, every dollar spent on food will go straight to charity. This differs from many other fundraising events, in which only a fraction of the profits go directly to the cause.
Naturally, this unique facet of TruckFest, in addition to its overall unprecedented nature, made the event especially difficult to plan. The organizers of the event conducted significant preliminary fundraising to cover overhead costs so that all of the proceeds may go to Send Hunger Packing. Additionally, they had various negotiations with the University and town throughout the planning process. Throw into the mix the opinions of 11 very different eating clubs, and the task seems nearly impossible. According to Kathleen Cordrey ’16, another organizer of TruckFest, overcoming these logistical challenges represents the fundraiser’s greatest success.
Cordrey added that events like TruckFest will help foster a better attitude toward the eating clubs. Rather than viewing them as purely social outlets, the clubs can also begin to establish themselves as organizations that care to engage with the community on a larger scale.
“It’s a great event. I think it’s really fun — everyone loves food trucks, and it could be the start of a great tradition,” Sanders said.
Now that you have the scoop on TruckFest, one question remains: Can you finish the Alternative Prospect 11?