Food truck craze hits Liberty Hill cafeteria

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By Christine Bolaños

The food truck phenomenon that has become an integral part of Austin culture has extended to the outskirts of town and into the suburbs, including, this fall, to Liberty Hill.

Liberty Hill High School students will have new options as they make their way through the cafeteria line this week with food-truck-like features and menus.

The food options will offer new twists to popular staples such as salads and sandwiches in hopes of enticing students’ ever-expanding and adventurous palettes.

The cafeteria is unveiling Street Eatz, an innovative approach to high school dining that focuses on the overall customer experience. It is vendor Sodexo’s concept, adapted by a handful of area school districts, after positive feedback from students across the country.

“Consumers love these mobile eateries for many reasons including their bold and colorful branding, their curb-side convenience and the eclectic array of affordably priced creations they serve,” according to a company flyer provided by LHISD Child Nutrition Services Director Mary Sheffield to The Independent.

“Street Eatz mimics the edgy, retail experience that drives students off campus for lunch, while delivering the unique, relevant and authentic foods they crave,” the flyer explained.

The new concept is not meant to replace the traditional high school cafeteria, but rather to add another option for students.

“Some schools may do it as a cart. I know Georgetown implemented it as part of their serving line. We’re doing the same,” Sheffield said. “The packaging is kind of similar to what you’d see with a food truck. It’s taking on that whole concept and putting a twist on recipes like a food truck would.”

According to Street Eatz, five on-trend formats focus on a few items and sides and pairing them with a theme Sodexo perceives to be consistent with flavor profiles, adds authenticity and appeal to the overall dining experience. Street Eatz formats includes theme-specific “toppings bar” allowing students to personalize their meals.

Some 40 menu items were created for Street Eatz. According to Sheffield, the formats will rotate one per week, and include Beale Street BBQ, Sunset Strips, Canal Street Mac Attack, Main Street Tacos and Olvera Tortas.

“There will be different little twists,” Sheffield emphasized. “Instead of a carrot salad it’s a carrot ginger salad. There’s certain combination salads that are a little different.

“During like the first week, for example, we’re taking the same proteins, say pulled turkey and several different sauces and different kinds of cole slaw,” she added. “We’re adding the pop to it. It’s a combinations of things to make it unique.”

The school menu available at libertyhillsd.sodexomyway.com lists the menu available to students in the coming weeks.

“This week, we are serving Beale Street BBQ, which is pulled turkey with choice of barbecue sauce served on taco chips or a freshly baked whole grain sub topped with slaw and cheddar cheese. Sides include Blue Ribbon Slaw, baked beans, carrot ginger salad, pineapple cucumber salad or supper side salad, which includes Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, corn and black beans,” she said.

Next week, students get to try Sunset Strips tossed with their favorite wing sauce. “Sunset Strips will offer chicken strips tossed in their choice of sauce with a garlic knot breadstick,” she continued. The week of Sept. 7-11 students can try Main Street Tacos and the week of Sept. 14-18, they can give the Canal Street Mac Attack a try.

“Canal Street Mac Attack takes cheddar and Alfredo macaroni to a new level by giving customers four enhanced options like BBQ Chicken Pomodoro, Southwestern and Tuscan veggie served with a cinnamon pinwheel,” Sheffield said. “Main Street Tacos offer the choice of corn or whole wheat tortillas with a choice of carnitas, ancho BBQ, Al Pastor or picadillo.”

Next is Tortas with a choice of Cubana, chipotle turkey, breakfast tortas or carnitas during the week of Sept. 21-25. They will be served with frijoles churros schmear and avocado crema drizzle.

“Torta sandwiches are gaining in popularity,” she said.

Side dishes include cinnamon apples, Asian broccoli salad, classic Caesar salad, cucumber tomato salad, broccoli lime salad, Jimaca orange salad, Escabeche carrot salad, chili lime melon salad and roasted corn salad.

“Hopefully it’ll get kids to try things they haven’t tried before and hopefully open that opportunity, which we’re always trying to do with the kids,” Sheffield said. “We’ll bring in different fruits and veggies to give them a taste and maybe they’ll find something they like and tell their mom.”

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