Students gather at Serna’s Grill at Fall PhilanthroFest. Photo by Taylor Hancock / North by Northwestern 

Lines formed outside the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art on Tuesday, as students gathered to sample a variety of food trucks, learn about a host of campus programming and collect free Northwestern merch.

The event, known as the Food Truck Festival and Fall Philanthrofest, marked the start of this year’s Homecoming Week programming, which celebrates the beginning of a new year. Members of Student Philanthropy Council & Alumni Relations and Development helped with event planning, including Communication third-year Lilly Reed.

“[The goal of today was] getting students familiar with organizations on campus and we’ll all be alumni hopefully, and so just getting students familiar with these organizations and having a positive connection with them,” Reed said. “Getting them excited about the school year.”

Students went through four stations learning about different programs at NU before reaching the prize booth. Students spun prize wheels for free gifts including drink koozies, bedazzled tumblers, painted mugs and phone wallets.

The Northwestern Alumni Association also contracted three food trucks and provided all students with a $5 voucher off of any item. Many indulged in foods including monster french fries and pulled pork mac and cheese. But La Calaca, a 100% mobile truck with authentic Mexican food, had the most popular dish. Owner Veronica Linares said their #1 best selling item — the Quesataco, a mix between a cheesy Quesadilla and a stuffed taco — put them on the map.

“We want the students to call for us, we want them to be like, ‘Hey, let's get that taco truck back,’” she said. “So [marketing to students is] really the ultimate goal. We want to make sure that a larger group loves our food so that we can come here and satisfy that need.”

Following an early morning class, Weinberg first-year Aliyah Durry trekked to Arts Circle in hopes of some free food. However, when she arrived, she said the options were not what she anticipated.

“They probably could have had more food trucks, more variety,” she said. “I have an allergy to gluten, so there wasn't very many options for me.”

As a first-year, Durry has been trying to get a feel for available programs and initiatives on campus outside of clubs and organizations. Despite her disappointment in food, Durry found the opportunities presented at each station informative for new students.

“I feel like [the gifts] were very useful and interesting prizes and I got a lot of information about certain clubs and opportunities whether that's for work or for school,” Durry said. “I feel hopeful for homecoming and what’s coming in the year.”

Thumbnail courtesy of Taylor Hancock / North by Northwestern