Food trucks fill hole in campus dining options at WSU Spokane

University receives requests for more food vendors on site

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SPOKANE — Smoke from Toby’s B-B-Q truck wafted through Spokane’s Riverpoint campus Thursday. The aroma of brisket, chicken, ribs and pork carried into nearby Washington State University buildings to draw out those inside.

“I’m salivating, so I can’t talk right now,” said Bryan Vila, a Washington State University professor. “This is just what I needed to get through the day.”

A different food truck parks on WSU Spokane’s campus each weekday to offer a variety of choices to students and university employees. It’s a solution to bring more on-campus food to a rapidly growing higher-ed community while the university works to find as many as three new food vendors for inside its buildings.

Newly elected student body president Jared Kavanaugh, who strolled out in the rain to order barbecue, said when he was campaigning the most common request he heard was for “more food options” on campus.

WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown said the school invited the food-truck vendors to come to campus as a stopgap measure.

“I realized it was going to be a while before we completed our master plan and construction,” she said. “The food trucks are a fun way to engage local entrepreneurs and offer choices for our students and employees.”

The university has just finished collecting requests for proposals from food vendors that want to take up residence on campus. Officials would not say how many submissions they received or what types of food might be offered.

Officials are reviewing the proposals now, said Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane spokeswoman. Details are confidential until a vendor or vendors are chosen. The new food establishments’ expected opening date is in late August. Two new vendors will likely be located in the Academic Center and two additional sites are under consideration.

Meanwhile, rotating food trucks and the existing small cafe that offers soup, premade salads and sandwiches are the choices for a few more months. The food truck vendors — Bistro Box, Jamaican Jerk Pan, Spokane Dog and Toby’s B-B-Q — are there from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“The smell is intoxicating,” nursing student Kenzie Holloway said. “It’s a great idea for all the stressed out college students who need to stress eat.”