After a three-month hiatus, the University of Maryland Green Tidings food truck reopened Monday with plans for new menu items throughout the spring semester.
Opened in fall 2013, Green Tidings features local and sustainable cuisine served exclusively on the campus. The first menu of this semester includes potato-leek soup and red curry noodles — popular items from past menus — and new selections such as the little gem salad and white bean chicken chili.
Green Tidings chef Tom Schraa said. The truck also serves chicken dijon salad, herb de provence fries, blueberry buckle, mango lemonade and half and half lemonade.
"When we reopen the first menu for the season, we like to have a couple of heavy-hitters," said Schraa, who became the executive chef of Green Tidings in 2015. "Stuff there that people are familiar with, that they know and that have sold well in the past."
Green Tidings purchases its food from local farmers and the Terp Farm in Upper Marlboro, Schraa said. Locally grown produce is ordered in advance, and the truck's biweekly menus are based on what ingredients are in stock, Schraa said. For example, this week's little gem salad includes asparagus and black plums, both of which are in season, Schraa said.
The truck runs Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., switching to different areas of the campus — including in front of the Main Administration Building and Tawes Plaza — every day. Daily information about their food items and location schedules is posted to the truck's Twitter account, @UMDgreentidings.
This university's students play an important role not only as customers, but also as employees, Schraa said, adding that students are hired to help prepare the truck every day and to run its social media sites.
"It's a job creator — the kids love it, everybody loves it." Schraa said, "When the truck closes for the semester, there's lots of tears, and when it opens, there's lots of cheers."
Green Tidings temporarily closed in December, as the eatery's service is based on weather and community demand, Dining Services spokesman Bart Hipple said.
"When it's really bad weather outside, people are not really going out to a food truck, whether it's too hot or too cold," Hipple said.
The food truck contributes to Dining Services' goal to serve 20 percent sustainable food by 2020. Dining Services has already exceeded this goal, purchasing 26 percent sustainable food in 2016, according to a Dining Services report.
Junior journalism and plant science major Nicolle Schorchit said she has eaten at Green Tidings multiple times, and that she enjoys the healthy and locally grown selection.
"One time, I had this white four cheese mac and cheese with bacon, and it blew my mind," Schorchit said. "The fact that it's all local food just makes me so happy. I'm such a supporter of local food."
Freshman computer science major Mohammad Reza Salimi said while the food is relatively pricey, the cost makes sense considering the food is locally grown. Menu items cost between $2.50 and $7.50, with most entrées selling for $7.50.
"It is a bit more pricey than what you'll get at a fast food joint, but I think it's reasonable because of the quality that they're giving you," Salimi said. "I might not be coming here often, but I do consider it once in a while."
The Green Tidings truck will be available for the spring semester before taking another short break, the dates of which haven't yet been announced, Hipple said. While no additional food trucks are planned for the future, Schraa has cooked for the eatery since its inception, and said he's seen its service improve over the years.
"We started off with a smaller truck, we graduated to this bigger truck a few years back. For me it's been a great success," Schraa said. "I love this truck."