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Taste of Downtown L.A. Brings Free Food To Campus

Janelle Cabuco |
February 10, 2014 | 3:08 a.m. PST

Associate Food Editor

Welcome to Taste of Downtown L.A. (Janelle Cabuco / Neon Tommy).
Welcome to Taste of Downtown L.A. (Janelle Cabuco / Neon Tommy).
On Feb. 6, USC Program Board presented University of Southern California’s students with a perfect opportunity to try great cuisine from all around downtown Los Angeles. From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. USC Program Board held an event free to all USC students called Taste of Downtown L.A.

“Taste of DTLA is a biannual event that Program Board’s Special Events Committee puts on to promote great cuisines in the L.A. area,” said Denise Rockstroh, the assistant director of USC Program Board’s Special Events Committee. “So many students, especially freshmen or those without cars, don’t ever get a chance to explore the food L.A. has to offer, so we thought we’d bring it to USC instead.”

The event took place at McCarthy Quad and featured a variety of different food trucks and downtown L.A. restaurants. 

Five months ago, Rockstroh and one of her coworkers began contacting L.A. restaurants with offers to participate in the event. This semester, however, they put an extra emphasis on trying to cater to vegetarian students and trying to get a wider variety of different types of restaurants to participate. 

12 restaurants in tents and two food trucks participated in the event, making restaurant participation an all-time record.  

“This semester, I truly believe all of the vendors were successful in catering to students’ cravings. Returning vendors like Chichen Itza have always been old favorites, but I do think this semester's new vendors like Sprinkles Cupcakes, Mendocino Farms, Berlin Currywurst, and The Melt Grilled Cheese Truck stood out,” said Rockstroh. “Not only were they already well-known around L.A., but these vendors really made an effort to make a good impression on USC students. For example, the Melt Truck was the last to leave campus, making sure to feed students until the event was over at 2 p.m.”

Students waiting in line to sign-in (Janelle Cabuco / Neon Tommy).
Students waiting in line to sign-in (Janelle Cabuco / Neon Tommy).
To receive free food, students waited in line and signed in with their names and USC e-mail addresses at the check-in booth. Once signed in, students each received a ticket that was checked off at each booth and food truck. 

This semester, not only did USC Program Board manage to get more restaurants to participate, but they also implemented a new, environmentally friendly way to hosting the event. 

“In the past, this event has created a lot of unnecessary environmental waste due to the large amount of paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils we provide students. So this semester, I teamed up with Program Board’s Environmental Student Assembly to make this event the first one to be ESA certified,” said Rockstrah. “We provided students with the choice to bring their own reusable plate or Tupperware in exchange to join a fast pass line at each of the vendors. This trial was actually pretty successful because a huge amount of students brought their own Tupperware to cut the infamous long lines at this event.”

USC Program Board expected an attendance of about 2,500 USC students, and their turnout definitely matched, if not surpassed, that number. However, the board is expecting next semester’s event to be even bigger and better than this semester’s. 

Reach Associate Food Editor Janelle Cabuco here



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