Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The Swarthmore Co-op held its first Food Truckathon event, where a selection of a dozen trucks showcased their culinary goods to a backdrop of live music, buzzing conversations, and the homey crackling of a fire pit. Trucks lined the street beside the Co-op last Friday night, lighting up Lincoln Way throughout the evening, as both Swarthmore students and Ville residents alike eagerly awaited their food in queues stretching around the block.
It was general manager of the Co-op, Marc BrownGold, who initially approached marketing directors Anthony Saufley and Hillary Wickline about organizing November’s truckathon.
“We are all huge fans of food trucks,” Wickline said. “Especially those that pay close attention to their environmental impacts.”
Each truck was selected according to their sustainable business practices. Despite an eclectic array of cuisines ranging from Korean to Mexican to American, each had in common a commitment to sourcing local ingredients and to reducing their carbon footprints as much as possible.
The truckathon, Wickline said, was a successful initiative that not only brought together both farmers and consumers, but that also engaged the community in a way it hasn’t experienced before.
“We reached out to Swarthmore and Media as well as Swarthmore College students,” Wickline explained, “because this event is just so unique and unlike anything this area has seen in the past.”
Given the huge turnout and enthusiastic reviews by many in attendance, the idea of future Food Truckathons seems almost assured. Indeed, when asked if the Co-op planned to arrange more events, Wickline confirmed that those in charge of the food truck project hoped to make them at least an annual, if not bi-annual occurrence.
On the Swarthmore campus, students found the Food Truckathon to be a great success. For Noel Quiñones ’15 in particular, an annual or bi-annual event does not quite satisfy. “I would like to make the argument that this should happen once a month,” he wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “I think there is enough revenue and support for it, and it might not mean a lot that one Swattie is pushing for this, but I really think it was a great night full of food, music and community bonding.”
This sentiment was certainly also shared with participating Swarthmore town residents. Families came together, pushing strollers and keeping a watchful eye on children who played in the crowd. Groups of teenagers mingled while they chose between hot tamales, rice boxes, or burgers.
“We are a little cold and a lot hungry,” laughed one resident Katherine, gesturing to her husband. “But we managed to get some of this warm apple cider before the rush, and it is delicious.”
Despite a few raindrops during the truckathon, the crowds remained throughout. The smells were intoxicating, the food even better, and the atmosphere easy-going and friendly even with lines stretching beyond the street. The Swarthmore Co-op has certainly organized a successful first Food Truckathon event that the Swarthmore community hopes to see repeated in the future.
Photo courtesy of Swarthmore Food Cooperative.