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Prall: Down on the corner, food trucks in the street

BY JACOB PRALL | SEPTEMBER 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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Your typical garden-variety college student requires very little in the way of resources. Pencils, pens, computers, makeup, detergent, cell phones, futons … all right, maybe I lied. If you boil down their needs, though, it becomes clear which is the most important, holding the most weight and influencing their performance every day of their college careers: food.

Unsurprising to say the least. College students need food just like everybody else and perhaps more so than many people. All that studying consumes a lot of calories. Mood, alertness, and performance are all directly affected by the meals in one’s stomach. Unfortunately, many students get bored quickly by what is available. You can only eat at Burge or Hillcrest so many times before your psyche cracks.

There are other options for meals in the city, but without a car and without much time, many simply cut meals out of their day. That’s where a new industry could help the University of Iowa.

Food trucks are a thing of history, there’s no news there. Food trucks in one of the nation’s greatest college towns, though? Now that is more interesting. Selling classic, affordable, home-style meals from portable locations could really change the eating habits of students in Iowa City for the better.

That’s where the food truck comes in. But unfortunately, city ordinances have kept the burgeoning new businesses off campus. Under code 10-3-5, mobile vendors are allowed to apply for permits to serve food to the north and south of downtown — quite the distance for the bulk of students living in dorms.

A growing number of voices, however, are in favor for the variety that could be afforded to the students of Iowa. These voices are primarily from the “foodie” community (those who enjoy tasting, rating, and discussing food) of Iowa City, the Mobile Vendors Association, and people who are just looking for a new option in their area. The success of the Iowa City Farmers’ Market was used as a gauge to determine whether there was interesting in something like this. 

With enough support, the ordinances will change. Eating semi-regular meals keeps the metabolism in check, keeps us students awake, and keeps our resolve to spend an afternoon at the rec center alive and well.

Sure, eating more may seem counterintuitive to a healthier life, but the research is unanimous in whether skipping meals bites you in the back later on. You’ll crave greater quantities of unhealthier foods, and suddenly the Freshman 15 is the Newbie 33.

Take the pressure off of rush hour in Burge. Open up some seating at Hillcrest. Put some good food in the hands of good kids who just need to grab a quick bite between lectures. A positive for the local economy, a positive for the health of Iowa City, and you can chalk up a positive for the taste buds of Iowa’s students. Support the repeal that will bring vendors into the student neighborhoods. It could mean a better Iowa City, university, and student body. So go ahead and get on board with food trucks — though I’m not sure if they’re hiring.


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