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Urban Cowboy: Food keeps on truckin’ across campus at Guelph

New truck is another way to relieve pressure on the long coffee and food lines
Urban Cowboy is Owen Roberts' weekly look at agriculture and food in Guelph.

The University of Guelph is further living up to its name as Canada’s Food University, in a new kind of way.

This fall, the university’s highly acclaimed hospitality services department — an 800-person operation that continually wins awards, praise and accolades from Guelph students and culinary peers — is making more food available, in several different kinds of ways.

First, a funky-looking food truck (think Portland, Oregon funky) called the Caffeine Canteen will be seen rolling around campus. Besides offering up java, it will feature baked goods from a sparkling new specialty kitchen being built in Creelman Hall.

The baked goods kitchen will be the third such specialty kitchen on campus, joining the produce-processing kitchen that specializes in local food, and the butchery room where staff prepare most of the 750 lbs. of local ground beef consumed each week when students are on campus.

It’s still in the planning stages, but the baked goods are likely to be pastries, such as scones and muffins, as well as some specialty breads. The Caffeine Canteen that offers them up will feature a grill as well, to supply breakfast sandwiches for outdoor events or for a quick grab and go between classes.

The new truck is another way to relieve pressure on the long coffee and food lines in the morning at the University Centre in particular.

And speaking of coffee, a unique feature of the Caffeine Canteen will be the availability of Guelph’s own locally roasted Planet Bean coffee.

This brew — Gryphon Blend is one name being discussed with administration for it  — will also be featured at a grab-and-go kiosk that is part of the new College of Business and Economics Building on College Ave., the totally refurbished Macdonald Hall.

“We wanted to profile a local company with a commitment to fair trade across the supply chain,” says college dean Julia Christensen Hughes.

“The fact Planet Bean operates as a cooperative was a bonus.  We have partnered with the company in the past, on the development of case studies that expose students to alternative and sustainable business models.  Having them as part of our new home seemed like the right thing to do!”

And as a further development, Hospitality Services will dedicate a percentage of Gryphon Blend sales to U of G Athletics, to support women's varsity scholarships. It’s the start of a new relationship — Gryphon Blend will also be sold at Planet Bean downtown, along with U of G Gryphon branded clothing. This clothing is produced according to a sustainable code of conduct, mirroring the fair trade principles of Planet Bean.

GryphNGrilleThe GryphNGrille food truck.

Prior to the Caffeine Canteen hitting the road, the university’s existing food truck, GryphNGrille — which served about 7,500 meals in 2015-16 — will get an updated menu for the fall. Watch for a changing daily menu, featuring items such as fish tacos.

And three weeks ago, Hospitality Services issued a Request For Interest from other Guelph food trucks that might want to take part in on-campus activities such as sporting events and special activities. The food trucks will be outfitted with technology that allows them to accept University of Guelph meal cards.

Mark Kenny, food procurement manager for Hospitality Services, is particularly enthused about an orientation event in September that will feature eight food trucks lined up along Winegard Walk, facing Johnston green.           

Says Kenny: “Having Guelph food trucks on campus is a new approach here, unique for everyone, and we’re really excited to watch it develop.”