Food and resource economics students complete survey project

May 16, 2012 under CANR News

University of Delaware food and resource economics students spent the spring semester conducting surveys and analyzing data on two projects, one concerning a student’s proposed food truck business and the second on general campus awareness of alternative energy sources.

The students in the Food and Resource Economics (FREC) 409 class of Rhonda Hyde, associate professor of applied economics and statistics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, presented their findings during a session held Tuesday, May 15, in Robinson Hall.

Half of the class discussed the results of a survey conducted on behalf of UD student Leigh Tona, who plans to open the I Don’t Give a Fork food truck business this fall, and the other half analyzed data taken from an alternative energy survey.

Food truck survey

The I Don’t Give a Fork food truck will open for business in a space at the Delaware Tire Center on South College Avenue in Newark.

The FREC 409 students working on the project surveyed about 250 people who visited south campus to assess the viability of the business as well as the best times of operation, price points and recommended menu items.

In the end, the students found that there was a large amount of interest in the food truck from the University community, and that many of the 250 people surveyed said that they would visit the food truck in the afternoon, after 4 p.m. There was also a lot of potential for customers on Saturdays, especially during sporting events such as football games.

With regard to price points, one group found that survey participants were willing to pay $4.67 for a six-inch sub or wrap, while another group found that if Tona does offer a combo meal — a sandwich, side and drink — she should raise the price anywhere from $1.27-$1.39 in addition to the sandwich price.

Recommended menu items included sides such as potato chips, pretzels and apples, and drinks such as soda, water and Gatorade. There was a good deal of interest in purchasing tea, as well.

Sandwich suggestions included turkey and cheese on a bagel, and bagels with cream cheese.

Tona, a management major with an entrepreneurial studies minor in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, was in attendance for the presentations and had a keen interest in the findings. “I’m really surprised to see that people want to come after 4 p.m. because my original plan was to be open 9 a.m.-3 p.m., so I may have to rethink that a little bit,” she said.

Tona did note, however, that she plans on being open to the public in general and not just the UD community, which was the focus of the survey.

One of the students also pointed out that Tona will probably benefit from the early morning traffic generated by construction at UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus.

Alternative energy survey

The alternative energy survey was used to gauge the amount of awareness that UD professors and students have about three alternative energy sources: solar power, wind power and biomass.

Select faculty and students were polled regarding their self-reported knowledge of the technology as well as the potential economic, regulatory and sociological barriers of the three alternative energy sources in Delaware.

Faculty and research scientists working in these areas were targeted for the survey. UD students majoring in natural resource management, resource economics, environmental engineering, environmental science, environmental studies and energy policy were also targeted.

Results revealed some differences in the knowledge areas of the six environmental-oriented majors listed above.

An interesting aspect pointed out by all of the survey study groups was that while UD students consider themselves very knowledgeable about solar and wind power, almost all of them answered that they did not know as much about biomass.

One group pointed out that the UD wind turbine could possibly contribute to the fact that many students consider themselves knowledgeable about wind power.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily

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UD senior set to Open Food Cart Business

April 9, 2012 under CANR News

Having secured a space at the Delaware Tire Center across from the University of Delaware’s south Newark campus, UD senior Leigh Ann Tona will be serving up sandwiches to members of the UD and Newark community from her “I Don’t Give a Fork” food cart. If you’re looking for utensils to eat your tasty meal, however, you’re going to have to bring your own.

“I Don’t Give a Fork” will serve up delicious sandwiches, wraps and paninis, all foods designed for patrons to eat with their hands. The business is part of the UDSeed Project, an innovative web platform launched by UD’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program that enables alumni, faculty, staff and community members to participate in the inspiring work that UD students do every day.

Tona, a management major with an entrepreneurial studies minor, said that she got the idea for the food cart when her hometown friend told her about how she worked on a food truck during the summer. Once she heard about the food truck, Tona said that she thought it sounded like a pretty “low cost start up business” that she wanted to explore.

Having wanted to own her own business since she was 13, Tona said that she is excited that an idea hatched in her entrepreneurship classroom has blossomed into an actual business. “It sort of went from being a joking around idea to a project for a class to me saying, ‘you know what, I’ve always wanted to do this so, might as well.’”

As for the attention-grabbing name, Tona said that she and her roommates sat around when they were bored throwing around names just for fun, and that her roommate actually came up with the “I Don’t Give a Fork” moniker. When asked about royalties, Tona said, “She gets free sandwiches for life.”

With regards to the menu, Tona explains that she will serve breakfast sandwiches, such as egg and bacon, egg and cheese, and egg and sausage, in the morning and deli sandwiches at lunch. She will also have a rotating “specialty menu” which will change based on the popularity of certain items.

The specialty menu will include things like “The Mac and Cheesesteak” which, she explained, is exactly as it sounds, a cheesesteak sandwich smothered with macaroni and cheese. She also envisions a sandwich called “The Freshmen Fifteen,” which will be a sandwich stuffed with items like mozzarella sticks, French fries and chicken.

Having worked at the UDairy Creamery for over a year, Tona said she often over hears patrons complain about the lack of food options on the south Newark campus and that they usually order something from Main Street. Tona said that this gets pricey, as a ten-dollar order can quickly turn into a fifteen-dollar order with tip and a delivery charge. “I’m hoping that people will prefer to walk an extra 5 minutes to get a sandwich than pay an extra 5 dollars for delivery,” said Tona.

With her soft opening scheduled for mid-August, Tona said that she plans to open for business in September, with a grand opening taking place when all the students have returned. She is planning on being open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. and on weekends for special occasions, like football games and other sporting events.

For more information on “I Don’t Give a Fork,” visit the website or Facebook page.

To read about other UDSeed Projects, check out the article on UDaily.

Article by Adam Thomas

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