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LAUSD Rolls Out New Student Food Truck Program with Chef Roy Choi

Student will soon have the opportunity to run a food truck on the city’s streets.

Netflix's Chef Show co-host Roy Choi is giving a speech in front of one of the two LAUSD food trucks showcased on Wednesday, January 31, 2024. (Jinge Li/LMaybach Media)

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Los Angeles Unified students will soon have the chance to run a food truck on the city’s streets, showcasing the best of their cooking skills while learning to run their own business.

Earlier this year, LAUSD superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced the district's new food truck program in collaboration with software company Intuit and Roy Choi, co-host of Netflix's Chef Show.

The program features two professional food trucks equipped with a commercial-grade kitchen, to be run by students enrolled in career technical education programs at Maywood Academy High School and John H. Francis Polytechnic High School. It’s unclear when the program will launch.

In his initial 100-day plan, Carvalho emphasized the importance of post-graduation plans and career paths for high school students.

“We don't want a single student leaving high school without a college or university ticket or an opportunity for career and technical programming,” Carvalho said.

Students at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Maywood Academy High School (Jinge Li/Maybach Media)

The students will be in charge of food preparation, promoting the food trucks, and handling all aspects of the business.

“It's fun, it's engaging. It's interesting,” said Maywood culinary program junior Francisco Delatoree about the food truck program. “It made me want to cook more. I used to not do much, [but] now I cook for my family.”

Senior Emiliano Ponce said the launch of the food truck program will help him determine his future job path. “It opens a lot of doors… I've liked cooking (since) a young age,” Ponce said. “This program is helping me determine if I'm [going to] pursue culinary or not.”

Roy Choi encouraged students to embrace their culture and food, “I just want you to look at this food truck and know that it represents not only an opportunity but also represents yourselves and your culture.”

“The smallest thing, from the smallest idea to the smallest neighborhood to the smallest block, you can make a difference throughout the whole world,” Choi added.

Choi was born in Korea and moved to Los Angeles when he was two years old. After years of working at Michelin-starred restaurants, Choi shifted his focus to the food truck industry in 2008. Today, Choi’s Kogi food truck is well-known in LA and he is recognized as one of the architects of the modern food truck movement.

LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announcing the new food truck program with students at Maywood Academy (Jinge Li/Maybach Media)

Carvalho, who followed a non-traditional route to becoming an educator, working as a dishwasher and in construction before landing an administrative job in education. He launched a technical high school, which showed him the power of career-oriented education.

“It paid off for those students,” Carvalho said. “So that told me early on that we need to do more in the career and technical space (is) as an equally important, viable option for students.”

Carvalho wants the district to offer a wide range of career and technical opportunities, connecting students to industries not only in technology and entertainment, but also to prepare for service fields.

“Today's announcement is not only important,” Carvalho said. “It's also a very cool announcement.”

This article is part of a collaboration between Maybach Media and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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