But Robert Hsu wants to change that.
“People don’t seem to realize that food trucks do offer healthy food,” he said.
The Penn biology and business student, along with fellow students Mitch Gissinger and Jessica Chen, have launched the Healthy Food Truck Initiative.
The program is designed to promote good-for-you eats at the sidewalk lunch spots and help reverse the obesity epidemic in the city. Currently, about 900,000 of Philadelphia’s 1.5 million residents are either overweight or obese, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Hsu came up with the idea after conducting a survey about food truck eating habits at the University of Pennsylvania. He says a number of people responded, saying that they avoided eating from food trucks because they perceived them as “unhealthy.”
“I thought that was so interesting because there are food trucks out there that do, sort of, healthy food and people just don’t know about them,” Hsu said.
Working with vendors in University City, Hsu says the initiative will help food trucks purchase healthier drinks like water and juice. They’ll also advertise healthy menu items at the participating trucks and push for the posting of nutritional information on menus.
“A lot of people have said to make food trucks healthier, they want calorie counts or ingredient lists and stuff like that,” he said.
Three trucks have already expressed interest in partnering with Hsu and are eager to alter any negative notions about their street-side fare.
Find the entire article by Vince Lattanzio at nbcphiladelphia.com <here>
What is their plan with the initiative?
Our goals and ideas can be broken down into two categories: promotion and product.
- Helping make nutritional information available at the point-of-purchase
- Identifying healthier meals that can be promoted to the public through signs, banners, posters, flyers, etc.
- Creating a pamphlet compiling healthier food truck options that can be distributed
- Organizing an event on campus where food trucks showcase healthy options
- Modifying meals, beverages, and snacks to be healthier without sacrificing taste or increasing cost
Through these initiatives, we hope to create a healthier food truck environment for customers by achieving the following goals:
- Enable customers to make healthier decisions with nutritional information
- Encourage customers to buy healthier meals offered by food trucks
- Improve the perception of food trucks’ healthfulness
- Improve the awareness of healthier options at food trucks to existing and potential customers
How will the money be spent?
Food trucks typically do not have a marketing budget, and with funds, we will be able to work with food trucks to create a healthier food environment for consumers. With our first phase of crowdfunding, we will aim to start work with three to four food trucks. A list of potential expenditures is listed as follows:
- New menus with nutritional information (such as calories, calories from fat, grams of fat, milligrams of sodium, grams of carbohydrates, and grams of protein)
- Banners, posters, and signs to advertise healthier meals at food trucks
- Printing pamphlets with healthier meals from various food trucks for distribution on college campuses
- Supplies for an event to showcase healthy food from food trucks
- Consulting dietitians to provide advice on altering recipes
- Merchandise for the initiative, such as t-shirts, stickers, pens, etc.
If you would like to get all of the information on the initiative and/or donate, you can find it on Indiegogo <here>