Inside: Looking for field trip ideas for Spanish class? Try a food truck day!
I am so pleased to share this post from Courtney Nygaard at Profe Nygaard! Instead of trying to take your classes out on a field trip, bring the field trip to you. Getting started will be easy with her (very organized) ten steps to making it happen. Enjoy!
Are you interested in hosting a Food Truck Day at your school? For the past three years, I have planned a Food Truck day for my high school Spanish students and it has become one of the highlights of the year. All year long my students ask me if we are going to have our Food Truck Day again. I know the idea of planning an event like this can be overwhelming, but don’t worry! From the experience I’ve gained over the past three years, I’ve come up with ten steps to planning a Food Truck Day at school. In this post, you’ll learn how to successfully organize a Food Truck Day and additionally, how to use it as a fundraiser.
1. GET IT APPROVED BY YOUR PRINCIPAL.
It may seem obvious, but the first thing you need to do is make sure hosting this event is approved by your principal. You want to make sure you are complying with school rules and aligning the event to the school calendar as best as possible. Nothing worse than planning a large event only to find that students have standardized testing or a field trip for another class.
2. PLAN TEACHER SUPERVISION DURING LUNCHES
This step will depend on how your school’s lunch schedule is set-up. At my school, we have three lunches. I coordinated with the other Spanish teachers to make sure that someone was outside during each lunch. One thing I did to ensure teacher supervision at all times was physically bringing one of my classes outside to sit on the lawn and work on their assignment. They enjoyed the chance to be outside for the hour and I was able to supervise the event. If this won’t work for you, you may need to request that your school provide a substitute for the hour you will be outside supervising the event.
3. SURVEY STUDENTS
I survey my students using a Google Form before I contact the food trucks. I make it clear that students will need to pay around $10 for their lunch which influences some students’ decision, depending on their economic situation. Of course, I wish every student could participate, but ultimately this event is a fundraiser which ends up funding other activities for all students later on in the year. If students choose to not participate in the event they simply attend lunch in the cafeteria as usual.
In the survey, I ask them for their name, what lunch they have, and if they plan to eat at the food trucks that day. This survey is conducted before I contact the food trucks, because in order to get a food truck to agree to attend, they need to know the approximate amount of students they will be serving. This survey also informs me how many food trucks I need to contact.
At my school, our lunches are very short (about twenty-five minutes). It’s important to know how many students will need to be fed in the amount of time you have allotted for your school’s lunch. Knowing this information allows the food truck (who is well versed in their serving capacities) to know whether or not it is possible to serve the number of students you have, in the amount of time your school allows.
4. CONTACT THE FOOD TRUCKS AND SET A DATE
Now that you have an approximate student count for who will be eating lunch at the food trucks, you can begin to contact food trucks in your area. The first year of setting this up is always the trickiest. Food trucks need to be sure that it will be worth their time and can be hesitant to come to an event that will also have another food truck. In my case, I had 181 students that planned to eat lunch at the food trucks all within an hour and a half time span across our three lunches. So I needed two food trucks.
If you need multiple vendors, find food trucks that are available on the same date and inform them of the number of students, the time crunch, and arrival details. Be sure to ask about their electrical needs so you can be sure that they are close enough to the building to run an extension cord if they don’t have a generator.
It must be worth their time. The following year, a food truck actually initiated contact with me because they wanted to do this event again. The second year I hosted this event I asked if they would be willing to do this as a fundraiser for our Spanish classes. They were more than happy to donate 10% of the profit to our Spanish classes! This was great because we have been able to use the funds earned from our Food Truck Day to pay for our Three Kings Day party with our students.
5. ALERT NECESSARY PERSONNEL ABOUT THE EVENT
Now that the date is finalized, you will want to alert necessary personnel. Contact the city about the area in which the food trucks will be parking (this may or may not be necessary for you). Put in a request to your custodial staff for several large garbage cans to be placed nearby on the day of the event. Also, make sure to contact your lunch monitors about the passes you will be using for students to be excused to leave the cafeteria for the event.
6. CONTACT PARENTS
Your event is starting to take shape! Send out an e-mail to parents alerting them of the event. Some parents may need extra time to get $10 together, so it’s important to be conscientious of all income levels. Attach the food truck menus, along with the prices. Inform parents that this event is optional; their son or daughter does not need to participate, and that if they prefer their child to each lunch in the cafeteria like normal, they may.
7. MAKE PASSES
Because of the time crunch, it’s likely that students will need a late-to-class pass. They may need an extra fifteen minutes of lunchtime so they can order their food, and have the time to eat it. If you would like a free download of these late-to-class passes and an event checklist you can get those here.
Something new that I’ll be doing for my Food Truck Day this year, is color coding the lunch-passes according to the lunch time-slots. This pass will be used to show the lunch monitors that a student is free to go outside for lunch. Additionally, this pass will help in identifying which students belong at each lunch as there tends to be a time overlap outside. Basically, if a student has first lunch, I want to quickly identify that they do not belong outside during third lunch. This will prevent students from abusing the system, skipping class and staying outside too long.
This event is exclusive for Spanish class students (or whichever language department is hosting your event) so passes work as an effective way to easily tell who is supposed to be there.
*Note: I don’t give students the late to class passes in advance. I give these to them if and when a particular lunch is ending, and they are still eating outside.
8. GO OVER THE MENU WITH STUDENTS
You will want to go over the menu and prices with students ahead of time. Remind them to bring cash and make sure students who have food sensitivities or allergies are aware of what’s on the menu. This is a great time to go over the vocabulary and key phrases for ordering food in Spanish (or again, whichever language department is hosting this event).
9. SURVEY STUDENTS AGAIN
The week of the event, survey students again in order to give a more accurate number to the food trucks.
10. CONTACT SCHOOL LUNCH STAFF & TEACHERS
With the latest numbers, notify the school lunch staff of how many students will not be eating lunch in the cafeteria that day. This helps the school reduce food waste.
Send out an e-mail to all teachers letting them know some of their students may be arriving late to class (with a pass) that day. Attach a photo of the late-to-class pass in this email. This will give teachers an idea of what to look for in the event a student were to arrive late to their class.
Also, inform teachers that they are more than welcome to purchase lunch at the event themselves. Notifying them additionally, that the best time-frame to do so will be before/after normal school lunch slots if they prefer not to wait in line. Some teachers have prep during those times. The lines will most likely be long during lunches, and it is always a good idea to look out for your colleagues.
FINAL TIPS FOR THE DAY OF THE EVENT
The day of the event I have a Bluetooth speaker outside playing upbeat music in Spanish, which always adds a nice vibe. Since students eat out on the lawn, some of them bring blankets to sit on, which I think is a great idea!
As lunch times change, ask students to show you their pass, so you can verify whether or not they should still be there. If they need more time to finish eating, give them a late-to-class pass.
Final note: You may be concerned about students who cannot afford to eat lunch at the food truck. As this event is a fundraiser, you could use the funds you raise this year as scholarships for next year’s event. So in the year following, the students’ whose family may not be able to afford it would simply need to check a box on the Google Form survey stating that they would need a scholarship in order to participate.
You should be able to prepay with the vendor in order to get pre-paid tokens allowing students to order pre-determined food options. Pass the tokens out to your students the morning of the event. At this point, you should be set for a cultural experience you and your students can thoroughly enjoy!
Courtney Nygaard is a high school Spanish teacher in Minnesota. She also runs a website called Profe Nygaard and a travel blog called Travel For Days. You can find Courtney’s teaching resources for your Spanish class at her Teachers Pay Teachers store – Profe Nygaard.
DO YOU HAVE MORE FUN FIELD TRIP IDEAS FOR SPANISH CLASS?
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