On the night of Saturday, Sept. 22, Ransom Lawn was brimming with Kenyon students waiting in line for the late-night offerings of Harvest Food Truck To-Go.
For Meagan Stewart, the chef running the food truck, the commotion of this scene was oddly familiar.
“It was a very busy experience,” said Stewart. “I knew that, coming into Kenyon, it would be busy, because I have run the meal times.”
From 2008 to 2016, Meagan Stewart served as the executive chef of AVI Food Systems at Kenyon. She is now the executive chef of Harvest Food Truck To-Go, a precursor to the Harvest Cafe and Market, which plans to open in Mount Vernon later this year.
After Stewart left, John Marsh ’76, the director of sustainability for AVI at the time, approached her about her ideas for a new local restaurant.
“I wanted a totally sustainable lunch and breakfast, with cool late night events after hours,” Stewart said. “I wanted it to be eco-friendly, with the smallest footprint possible, where people could order via app, order via online, come in [and] pick it up.”
Surprisingly for Stewart, Marsh told her that he would like to make her idea a reality. But, while the preparations for the business opening were underway, Stewart decided that there was more she could be doing.
“The food truck came about because I was tired of sitting in [Harvest’s] office,” Stewart said. “I really wanted to get back to the kitchen.”
Stewart began collaborating with Yellowbird Foodshed, a Mount Vernon business which delivers fresh ingredients from local farms to the greater Columbus area. According to Benji Balmer, the director of the company, by using these ingredients, Harvest Food Truck To-Go is one of the few “locally sourced” eateries that is consistent in its use of local ingredients.
“Every single thing coming out of [the food truck] is from us,” Balmer said. “At our warehouse…we carved her out a whole section of cooler space, shelf space, whatever, so she can come in, have all of her stuff there and just grab what she needs.”
Stewart sees Kenyon as an obvious location for the food truck, especially considering the Office of Student Engagement’s recent focus on bringing in more food options for students.
“We have always coordinated occasional truck offerings on campus,” said Director of Student Engagement Laura Kane. “However, with the recent closure of the Peirce Pub on the weekends, we are looking into a higher frequency.”
Stewart will be bringing Harvest Food Truck To-Go to Middle Path this friday to serve lunch. Additionally, she has scheduled two more weekend events later in October.
“I’m excited,” Stewart said. “It’s kind of strange returning to Kenyon.”