When University of Southern Mississippi senior Michael Matrick gets a craving for funnel cake fries, he simply searches for the black and gold box truck parked somewhere on the Hattiesburg campus.
Known as the “Grub Slinger,” the University’s unique food truck offers everything from hamburgers to tacos to paninis from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The truck made a rousing debut last September and continues to grow in popularity with the 2019 fall semester underway.
“I love the food truck. I think it was a fantastic idea,” said Matrick, a Brandon native who serves as president of USM’s Student Government Association. “I have purchased funnel cake fries, popsicles, BLTs and so much more. I will have to say that the funnel cake fries are my favorite.”
In addition to an expansive lunch menu, students may also order a variety of breakfast sandwiches, burritos and specialty toast. The food truck idea sprang from discussions between representatives of USM Eagle Dining/Aramark who were looking for ways to accommodate underserved areas of campus.
Matrick points out that the Grub Slinger fills that void perfectly.
“It’s important because it brings a necessary service to students,” he said. “If someone doesn’t have a lot of time between classes and the food truck is parked on the way, then it really helps the students out. Especially since it takes Bonus Bucks and Dining Dollars.”
Aramark Marketing Manager Lauren Brescher says that the Grub Slinger normally serves between 80-90 guests per day. She notes that among the more popular items are buffalo chicken tacos, The Monster Philly, avocado BLT and funnel cake fries.
And how is the location for the food truck determined each day?
“We monitor student traffic patterns as well as pinpoint areas on campus that lack a food venue,” said Brescher.
David Wood, who oversees the Grub Slinger’s operation, says that the constant change of scenery makes the venture particularly rewarding.
“New customers, new food items and a different location every day,” he said. “I ran a food truck in Chicago for over a year, which was a blast, but to be on a college campus and bringing that experience to my alma mater has been a fun concept to develop. I enjoy seeing the excitement from students, faculty, staff and potential future Golden Eagles alike.”
The Grub Slinger also serves food on football game days at The Rock this fall, with a location set up near the Jim & Thomas Duff Athletic Center.