For many college students, dining hall food can get redundant and bland, especially in the times of COVID-19 when the dining hall has limited options. Thankfully, for UMass Boston residents, there has been a new way to get tasty food on Friday nightsall included in the pre-paid dining plan. 

On Nov. 13, UMass Boston’s Housing and Residence Life Office released an email to all on-campus students, informing them of the newest pop-up: a food truck available for all residents, from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. that night at Clark Circle. By 8 p.m. a line had already begun to stretch along the side of the East Residence Hall, filled with hungry college students patiently waiting for grilled cheese.

While the dining hall staff and Office of Residence Life have not been opposed to meal specials and treats, something like this is completely new for this year. The dining staff have offered meal specials to students on campus several times a weekwith meals such as chicken and waffles, a macaroni and cheese bar, and burrito bowl barsas well as the ‘Little Friday’ program, which featured sweets such as hot chocolate, bubble tea, or fresh cider and donuts on Thursdays at lunch. As for the Office of Residence Life, they have had programs such as their Insomnia cookies program, which delivered warm cookies to the doorstep of residents as a little mid-evening snack. 

The first food truck featured Roxy’s Grilled Cheesea cheerful, yellow-colored food truck that was featured (and won!) the second season of the Food Network’s "Great Food Truck Race." The menu featured a variety of gourmet grilled cheeses, such as one with bacon and homemade guacamole, and one with barbecue ribs and caramelized onions, as well as homemade truffle fries, and an order of tater tots with every meal. 

The second truck, which had been on Nov. 20, had been FarmEdible, a food truck focused around serving locally sourced produce from pasture-fed, small, collaborative farms that raised beef and chicken. The menu, cleverly named with items based around UMass Boston, featured hamburgers, falafel, and fried chicken sandwiches, as well as chips and freshly squeezed lemonade with each meal. 

“I like to keep it simple but make it applicable to students,” said owner of FarmEdible Nick Speros, when asked about the menu. “I realized most students ate burgers or chicken sandwiches, which was fine, but I didn’t want to make compromises, so I continue to make my own ketchup and sauces, and cut my own meats.” 

FarmEdible’s menu during their pop-up featured items such as the "Pasture/Fail Tostada"playing off pass/fail, as well as the fact that the cow in the burger failed at life by ending up in the dish, which he explained to me during the interviewwhich had been ground beef on a corn tostada with red cabbage, pickled onions, cilantro, and a lime crema. The menu also featured the "Bobby’s Beacon Burger"a play off our own mascot, Bobby the Beaconwhich was a beef burger with maple ketchup, cheddar cheese, lettuce, red onion, and tomato on a toasted bun.

This food truck pop-up has been extremely popular with residents as well. The line for the trucks has stretched along the side of East Residence hall, running until right at 9:30 p.m. when the truck closes.

“The students love it,” said John Sears, Director of Residence Life. “We had about 120 kids for Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, and about 90 for FarmEdible.”

I, along with many other students, have definitely loved this program, but I did find the timing to be a bit of an inconvenience. The program starts at 8 p.m., and while that might be a normal time for some people to eat dinner on a Friday night, I’m trying to break that habit. During Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, I didn’t mind the late time, since the grilled cheese and tater tots was more of a snack than a full meal. However, with FarmEdible, I found the meal to be a bit heavy for the time, and couldn’t finish my sandwich. I think that even if the program started a half-hour to an hour earlier, it may draw even more people looking for a proper dinner. 

Though the program has wrapped up for the fall semester, Residence Life is looking towards the future for ways to continue this program in the spring semester. 

“We’re looking towards spring, yes,” said Sears. “We’re talking to University Health Services and seeing what we can do to be safe and be outside. We might have these trucks back, or invite some new ones in, but I’m looking forward to it.” 

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