By Sierra Stivala
An entrancing aroma of sweet treats and savory samples radiated from Princeton TruckFest on Saturday, April 16, as the community came together to support local hunger charities Meals on Wheels and Mercer Street Friends. Over $33,000 was raised at the event this year, according to Jennifer Liu, a student at Princeton University and spokesperson for the Community Service Interclub Committee, which founded the event in 2014.
Meals on Wheels aims to provide healthy meals to low-income families. Equally inspiring, Mercer Street Friends donates food to those who face daily food uncertainty in the Princeton area. They also hold hunger prevention programs targeted at children.
More than 15 food trucks lined up along Prospect Street for the third annual event, showcasing some of their most popular menu items. Princeton students from the university’s 11 eating clubs, along with other local volunteers, facilitated the event and guided guests throughout the tasty selections of local businesses and food vendors.
Attendees navigated through weaving lines as they waited to enjoy the food. Tickets could be purchased to exchange for food at each of the trucks. Beverage stands located throughout the street served as another means to raise funds. From My Four Sons Korean Fusion and Ma & Pa’s Tex Mex BBQ to Nina’s Waffles and Maddalena’s Cheesecake Co., there was something to satisfy everyone’s craving.
The end goal of the event was to raise the funds necessary to address local food issues by supporting the event’s carefully chosen charities. With the event’s motto being “Good Food, Good Cause,” junior economics major Jeevan Jacob was more than happy to extend his support.
“It feels great eating for charity,” Jacob said.
The trucks offered small, on-the-go sized portions that allowed guests to taste a little bit of everything. Junior finance major Alexis Keiper enjoyed sampling all of the options. But her favorite treat came from the food truck Fork in the Road, at which Keiper offered a buffalo grilled cheese that was “out of this world.”
Tasty crowd favorites included innovative twists on traditional foods. At the Shrimp PoBoy, chipotle chicken quesadillas and Italian rice balls were just a few of the mouth-watering options available. Sweet alternatives included s’mores crepes, waffles with ice cream and frozen cheesecake cannolis on a stick.
In between bites, attendees enjoyed listening to disc jockeys from radio station 94.5 PST, as well as original musical performances from Princeton University’s student choir. A silent raffle was held in the afternoon with donations from Princeton’s most popular local stores and restaurants. TruckFest guests could win a variety of donations, including those from Benefit Cosmetics, Paper Source and Triumph Brewing Company.
Since its first year, the event has grown exponentially. With more truck vendors and food options, the sponsors hope to attract increasingly larger crowds, according to the event’s previous co-chair, Katie Gardner.
The very first TruckFest event raised an astounding $20,000 for charity. According to Gardner, additional vendors and publicity helped the event raise $25,000 in its second year.
“We’re expecting to raise even more this year,” Gardner said “It’s awesome to bring the community, university and (Community Service Interclub Committee), together to do something for local charities.”