Princeton TruckFest will raise money for Send Hunger Packing

The 11 eating clubs of Princeton University joined forces for the first time in recent history to plan the first Princeton TruckFest on April 25.

“Every year, each eating club holds a community service event, and it’s usually behind closed doors and open only to that club’s members,” Austin Sanders, one of the event’s organizers, said. “We started to meet back in the fall and talk about how to open up this community service initiative to the whole university, and to the greater Princeton community. We were inspired by a food truck festival in Washington, D.C., and we decided to shut down Prospect Avenue, where all the eating clubs are, and bring in food trucks.”

All proceeds from the event, which involves 11 food trucks and two musical acts, will go to Send Hunger Packing, an initiative sponsored by Mercer Street Friends and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

“Send Hunger Packing identifies students that wouldn’t have nutritious meals on weekends, and provides them with a backpack that contains two healthy meals per day,” Sanders said. “It’s a big thing to be able to give kids nutritious meals at school, and then maintaining those healthy eating habits through the weekend is just huge.”

According to the Mercer Street Friends food bank, Send Hunger Packing operates in 13 schools, and feeds about 600 students. Of those students, 255 are students in Princeton’s public schools.

“The expansion into Princeton serves to highlight that child hunger is found in urban, suburban and rural settings,” a 2013 Mercer Street Friends release read. “In poor or wealthy communities, there are children and families facing hunger and food insecurity. Princeton is regarded as an affluent community, yet one out of every eight children in the Princeton Public School district receive free or reduced price lunches.”

The 11 trucks participating in the event are Pudgy’s Street Food, Stace of Cakes, Mausam Curry n Bites, Undrgrnd Donuts, Oink and Moo BBQ, Tico’s Eatery and Juice Bar, The Dapper Dog, Pura Vida, Lost Brothers Pizza, The Taco Truck and Wrap Star.

The trucks invited to participate are all based in New Jersey, a move Sanders said was intentional.

“It’s very thematic,” Sanders said. “Eating clubs, food trucks, fighting food insecurity. We also really wanted to keep the cause very local to the Princeton community. We’re supporting a group that’s already present in the community, and the trucks are not making any money off this event. By having local trucks, we figured they’d be more invested in giving back to their community.”

TruckFest is still accepting donations through the website at www.princetontruckfest.org. Sanders, now a senior, said she hopes this is an event that will continue to bring together the Princeton University community and the residents in the surrounding town.

“The students of Princeton always talk about how much the community adds to our ‘Princeton Experience,’” Sanders said. “This is our way of doing something to tell the members of this community how much we truly appreciate them.”