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Education

Dallas ISD Will Soon Have a Student-Operated Food Truck

Curbside Delights will roam from school to school selling food made by Dallas ISD students in the 2024-2025 school year.
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Curbside Delights, the student-led and operated food truck, was designed by Dallas ISD graphic design students. Dallas ISD

When 18-year-old Melvin Hicks graduates from Moisés E. Molina High School, he wants to work in a restaurant.  He’s a senior in the school’s culinary arts program, which teaches students how to cook, manage a restaurant, and develop other skills required for a career in the hospitality industry. Hicks wants to one day become an executive chef and own a restaurant.

But this spring semester, Hicks is trying to get a food truck up and running with his classmates. In January, Dallas ISD unveiled a new student-operated food truck, the first of its kind in Texas. Hicks—along with DISD high school students from Molina, Bryan Adams, and Skyline—is learning how to start a food truck from the ground up.

“I’ve never operated a food truck before,” Hicks says. “Once I get there, it’s going to humble some people—it’s going to humble me as well. The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. So, there’s just more to be discovered about it.”

The food truck, which the students named Curbside Delights, was created in partnership with TurboTax parent company Intuit, says Jason Hamilton, the district’s career and technical education coordinator. The financial software giant donated a fully operational food truck with a commercial-grade kitchen, and students will use Intuit products to help them learn the business and finance sides of the operation. Hamilton says he is aiming for Curbside Delights to debut in late April or early May. It’s expected to be fully functional for the 2024-2025 school year. Intuit has entered into similar partnerships with school districts in three other states, but Dallas is pioneering the project in Texas.

Hamilton has more than two decades of hospitality experience, including 18 years as an executive chef. His job with the school district is to manage the food truck initiative. The plan is to start with the three high schools—all of which have culinary arts, business, and graphic design programs—and then expand to another six schools.

Students and teachers within those three career programs have been collaborating on the truck’s design, its business plan, a menu, and the necessary permitting work. (Last September, House Bill 2878 went into effect to make permits easier for food truck operators, and the city of Dallas in 2022 rewrote its code to be more friendly to these operations.) Business students will handle marketing, point-of-sale operations, and budget management. The graphic design students will design the menus and promotional materials, and culinary arts students will come up with the dishes on the menu, manage truck operations, prepare and serve food, and clean.

The money the students make will go back into the program to support the Career and Technical Education pathways that are involved with the project.

Each school will have the food truck for about three or four weeks at a time. The students will start serving meals at their schools and later branch out to other parts of Dallas County, popping up at high school games and special events, Hamilton says. Each school will have its own menu developed by the students, Hamilton says.

“I wanted to make sure that we had a place located on it where we can do a removable menu so that each school can basically provide their own menu,” Hamilton says. “We didn’t want to take their creativity away from the students at the schools and their identity. That was very big for us.”

Molina High School students have been developing a menu with food truck “staples” such as burgers, fries, and tacos. Hicks says he and his classmates want to attract customers with what they know, and then later experiment with other menu items such as birria tacos and doughnuts.

Hicks might only have a few weeks with the Curbside Delights if it debuts later this semester, but he’s looking forward to learning how to run a business in a different environment. He’s most excited to collaborate with his classmates inside the truck and learn how to make the operation as successful as it can be.

“One of the most interesting parts is just the fact that a food truck resembles real life business,” he says. “To be able to participate in something of that magnitude—I’m grateful for that.”

Author

Nataly Keomoungkhoun

Nataly Keomoungkhoun

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Nataly Keomoungkhoun joined D Magazine as the online dining editor in 2022. She previously worked at the Dallas Morning News,…

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