Posted Date: 12/20/2019
Weeks of designing, food prepping, constructing and marketing was on display Tuesday night when Royster Middle School students opened their food trucks that lined both sides of the commons area.
Available for tasting were tacos in a boat, pancakes with various toppings, burgers, pizza, walking tacos, quesadillas and drinks for the school board members and School Superintendent Kellen Adams.
Outside each food truck, an eighth grader stood ready to cajole passersby with the aroma, spices and flavors of the food available behind the cardboard construction of a truck with an open sales window. When someone stopped, an advertising spiel on a notecard followed, while the students behind the “truck” were flipping pancakes, assembling toppings for a quesadilla or baking in a microwave.
Having been through two previous food tastings with volunteers, the students were confident and excited to share their creations.
The idea for the food truck project originated with careers teacher Dallas Masoner who came up with the idea while watching a Food Network competition. He conspired with Family and Consumer Science teacher Sheila Foster-Ruckle and art teacher Linda Angleton to design a project that enabled students to use their skills in writing and advertising, recipe creation and cooking, design, construction and art.
The teachers decided to share the students in their second hour classes for the project and assigned them to teams.
From the culinary side, the students had to create a recipe, identify cooking equipment, safety precautions and sanitation to be used in a food truck, Foster-Ruckle said. They had to create an evaluation sheet for every recipe, accept criticism and modify the recipe after each food tasting with community volunteers.
In Masoner’s class, the students worked on marketing and advertising, creating a slogan or jingle, naming the food cart business and the types of food to be served.
“We gave them the guidelines and most of them went way beyond our expectations,” Masoner said.
The students who chose to serve taco boats figured out how to use a 3-D printer to make elongated boats to serve the tacos to their customers, Masoner said. Another group decided to play Italian music behind their food truck.
In the end, the teachers were particularly pleased with the soft skills the students picked up while working on the project.
Foster admitted she was afraid to have 50 people in her classroom kitchen, but they surprised her.
“They took ownership in cleaning up after themselves,” she said.
Erickson said she was impressed with how the kids worked together because it wasn’t an easy project for them.
During design and then construction, things don’t always work out as planned the first time.
“They had to tweak some of their ideas,” she said. “When things got tough, they pulled it together and came up with plans” to move forward.
“The team work has just blown us away,” Masoner added, particularly as they didn’t choose, but were assigned to a team.
His careers students told him that “Absolutely we should do this again.”
“We already have buy in from future students,” Foster added, because her seventh graders are asking if they can do it next year.