Mobile Classroom: San Diego Food Truck Teaches Students Culinary and Business Skills

San Diego Unified School District has unveiled a unique learning experience for its culinary students: a state-of-the-art food truck. This innovative addition, funded through a partnership with Intuit, will serve as a mobile classroom, allowing students from Mira Mesa, Hoover, San Diego, Garfield, and Morse high schools to gain hands-on experience in both cooking and running a business.

17-year-old Taiga Pangelinan, a senior at Morse High School, embodies the excitement surrounding the project. A passionate cook, he draws inspiration from his family's diverse culinary heritage, combining his father's Pacific Islander background with his mother's Japanese influence. "My family loves cooking with Spam, and I love to cook it," he shared. "On my mom's side, if I get the chance, I like to make ramen."

The food truck's launch transcended a simple unveiling. Over 300 culinary students attended the ceremony, not just to learn about the program but also to connect with successful individuals within the culinary industry. Spencer Hunter, a 2009 graduate of San Diego Unified and owner of Lia's Lumpia Restaurant, served as the keynote speaker. He encouraged the students to embrace resilience and perseverance, stating, "Think of your career in terms of resilience. So, just because you failed in one area, doesn't mean you're not going to succeed in another."

Sarah Vielma, Director of the district's College, Career, and Technical Education, emphasized the program's unique value. "I think the idea of being able to bring something so real to students, that they are actual participants in running and operating the food truck, is a really exciting thing for them," she expressed.

The program's impact extends beyond technical skills. Students like Taiga, who dreams of sharing his Asian-inspired creations with the community, find purpose and satisfaction in the learning experience. "If they do come afterward and tell me the food was great, that's what makes me happy. That's what makes me feel I accomplished what I was meant to do," he said.

This initiative by San Diego Unified School District promises to equip students with valuable culinary and business skills while fostering a sense of accomplishment and community engagement. The food truck, aptly named "Sunset Bites," will hit the streets soon, serving up deliciousness and valuable lessons on wheels.

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