Some students at Long Beach State speculate that food trucks on campus are charging more than off-campus ones, but these high prices actually correspond to the rise in food and gas prices in California.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the last year, the food index has increased by 8.5%. Food and energy rose by 0.4% during the month of March.
Food trucks used to be known for their affordable prices. They are also known for being convenient because they stop by universities and work sites. In other words, food trucks are known for their accessibility.
Since recent economic changes, it makes sense that food trucks have had to charge more to continue making profit from their businesses.
StopBye Cafe stopped by at CSULB, and although they were not able to answer questions in person, they answered via email.
“We [have been] affected by the rise of products, gas, [and] everything,” said a StopBye team member via email.
In late 2022, gas prices rose, causing many to be affected. The California Energy Commission listed some of the reasons for high gas prices. Among these reasons is that gasoline inventories were at low levels during 2022. Through September and October, four Calif. refiners conducted planned maintenance, which reduced the crude oil capacity by 55,000 barrels a day.
At the end of September 2022, Calif. experienced two weeks of high gasoline prices. By October 2022, the state paid $2.60 more per gallon than the rest of the United States.
A few months into 2023, gas prices have decreased a bit. However, there is no doubt that the state still has high gas prices.
Because food trucks are vehicles, they are affected by the rise in food prices and gasoline prices.
Usually, the food trucks that come to campus have several stops, which means they use up gas while going from stop-to-stop. Then there are some that stay for longer periods of time on campus. As a result, the number of food trucks that are significantly affected by gas prices may vary.
Christole Clark is the owner of Stacked Pasta, another food truck that visits CSULB. Clark explained that she has been more affected by the higher food prices than gas prices.
Additionally, as a food truck owner, it is important to make profit from your food. Therefore, her alternative was to raise her prices by one to two dollars to keep her business going.
When comparing the prices from off-campus food trucks to the ones that come to CSULB, there are food trucks with similar prices. For instance, Tacos Los Abundis was one of the food trucks outside campus that had the lowest food prices, ranging from $7.50 to $10, with tacos at $3 each. Their drinks ranged from $1.50 to $2.70. For those who come to campus, Crepes Bonaparte was in a similar lower price range. Their menu items ranged from $5.50 to $10, and their drinks were $3 to $5.
There were other outside food trucks that had similar prices to these businesses, but many had meals that were more expensive. Some had meals up to $15 or $19, with drink prices similar to Tacos Los Abundis.
La Chiva Colombian Lonchera had some of the highest prices off campus. Their prices were between $12 to $32, while their drinks were $3, with the most expensive drink at $5.
There was a pattern in the food trucks on campus. Some food trucks had prices as low as $12, but they also included meals that were above that. For instance, Stacked Pasta’s cheapest meal was their peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was $6. They had a $13 meal, and their highest price was $25 dollars.
Other food trucks like Cali Caribbean had prices that ranged from $11.99 to $22.99.
With these numbers, it is up to students to decide whether they are being charged more by food trucks on campus.
Based on the numbers, there might be other factors affecting the prices of food trucks that come to campus. For example, some food trucks might buy from different companies, their meals may require more ingredients or they have more stops, to name a few.