What is the Philadelphia Healthy Food Truck Initiative and why is it important?
The Healthy Food Truck Initiative is a partnership with food trucks to provide nutritional information and promote healthier options to customers in Philadelphia. A survey we conducted last year revealed that people who did not eat regularly at food trucks tended to perceive them as unhealthy. In reality, there are food trucks that offer healthier options, such as Chez Yasmine and Magic Carpet. Customers may not know about them or may allow their misconceptions to prevent them from going. If food trucks provide nutritional information and promote their healthier meals, they can alter customers’ perceptions of food trucks, increasing traffic (ultimately increasing profits) while encouraging customers to make healthier choices.
Obesity is a major public health threat in our country, especially in urban areas such as Philadelphia. According to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, over 900,000 adults in the city are overweight or obese. With a vibrant and growing food truck scene in Philadelphia, this is great opportunity to influence the eating habits, and ultimately the health, of Philadelphians.
This initiative is unique because it uses a business-friendly, community-based approach, which increases the chances for success and sustainability. Instead of trying to “regulate” food trucks, we are trying to build on their existing strengths to create a mutually-beneficially outcome for public health advocates and food truck owners. With approximately 62,500 people at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, there is a large potential pool of people who can be influenced by this initiative. If successful, this initiative has the possibility of influencing other cities with food trucks as well.
What is our plan with the initiative?
Our goals and ideas can be broken down into two categories: promotion and product.
- Helping make nutritional information available at the point-of-purchase
- Identifying healthier meals that can be promoted to the public through signs, banners, posters, flyers, etc.
- Creating a pamphlet compiling healthier food truck options that can be distributed
- Organizing an event on campus where food trucks showcase healthy options
- Modifying meals, beverages, and snacks to be healthier without sacrificing taste or increasing cost
Through these initiatives, we hope to create a healthier food truck environment for customers by achieving the following goals:
- Enable customers to make healthier decisions with nutritional information
- Encourage customers to buy healthier meals offered by food trucks
- Improve the perception of food trucks’ healthfulness
- Improve the awareness of healthier options at food trucks to existing and potential customers
We aim to work one-on-one with each food truck in order to develop a customized strategy to fit its daily operations and needs. Currently, we've reached out to a few food trucks (Hub Bub, Chez Yasmine, and Magic Carpet) to generate interest and gather feedback, as well as a board member of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association. With your contribution, we can continue our momentum.
How will the money be spent?
Food trucks typically do not have a marketing budget, and with funds, we will be able to work with food trucks to create a healthier food environment for consumers. With our first phase of crowdfunding, we will aim to start work with three to four food trucks. A list of potential expenditures is listed as follows:
- New menus with nutritional information (such as calories, calories from fat, grams of fat, milligrams of sodium, grams of carbohydrates, and grams of protein)
- Banners, posters, and signs to advertise healthier meals at food trucks
- Printing pamphlets with healthier meals from various food trucks for distribution on college campuses
- Supplies for an event to showcase healthy food from food trucks
- Consulting dietitians to provide advice on altering recipes
- Merchandise for the initiative, such as t-shirts, stickers, pens, etc.
If we do not reach our fundraising goal, all the funds will still be used to help start our initiative with food trucks. A budget for funding an investment into one food truck can be found under the "gallery" tab.
What are we capable of doing together?
With your help, we can make this dream a reality – naturally transforming the food truck landscape into one that actively promotes healthier eating in local Philadelphians. The success of this initiative could create a domino effect in other cities with a food truck culture as well. Every dollar of your donation can help improve the quality of life and health of Philadelphia residents!