By Erik Luna
Due to complications with the administration and Associated Student Union, the lunch truck A Wok Through Mexico was removed and replaced last Friday.
The lunch truck, which had been at East Los Angeles College since March 2009, had been harshly criticized by students. The prices were unjustifiably high and the food quality was poor, students said. Members of ASU said the problems with the lunch truck dated back to October 2010.
“We’ve been having problems with the lunch truck ever since last October. We’ve had students come talk to us about the problems they’ve experienced with the lunch truck and even (ASU) has had some problems with them,” said Shakira Eguez, ASU vice president.
Once ASU President James Garcia heard of these issues, he started working with administration to try to resolve the issue.
“The point of ASU’s resolution is to try and get a more student-friendly alternative for a food handler and that’s clearly not what we’re getting with the lunch truck,” said Garcia.
Two new lunch trucks were considered for the position that the Wok filled. One truck was Liliana’s and the other truck is called About Time, which was the lunch truck that was previously at ELAC.
Taste panels were held last Wednesday and Thursday to decide on which truck would be better for the temporary job. About Time had their taste test last Thursday and was chosen for the job. Marla Fuente, who rents the truck from the company About Time, said that she had been at ELAC two years ago. She said that they decided to let her go because they wanted to try something else.
Vice President of Administrative Services Tom Furukawa said that there were five students selected for the tasting, as well as two administrators, two faculty members and two classified members. The criteria we are using to look for the new lunch truck will be the quality of the food, what kind of menu they have, how many years they have been in the food service business, what kind of rent they are willing to pay us and also their pricing structure,” said Furukawa.
“I had a friend who bought three tacos from the lunch truck, (A Wok Through Mexico,) and one of the tacos had a piece of glass in it. She found it when she took a bite out of the taco, but it didn’t cut her. It just scratched the roof of her mouth,” said student Maria Meza.
Isabel Almeida, the owner of Wok, said that she had been having difficulties communicating with Furukawa and Susan Okawa about issues dealing with daily business.
“I couldn’t get Tom (Furukawa) or Susan’s (Okawa) attention about some issues I had to talk about, mostly about not being in contract with the school,” said Almeida.
Almeida tried to discuss a contract signing to Furukawa and Okawa but could not get a hold of them on a daily basis.
Furukawa refused to give a comment about the matter, but Okawa said “we are either not allowed to enter into a long term contract or we didn’t want to with the lunch truck.”
Although Furukawa said that the new lunch truck that takes the place of ‘Wok’ will be offered a contract, it will be a offered on a year-to-year lease. Almeida also said she had problems with her equipment being broken. She said it was either by vandalism or simple malfunctions, so she tried to talk to Okawa about it.
“(The equipment,) those are hers. She doesn’t pay for security, except for the way the rest of the campus is patrolled. We have no idea who was breaking her stuff, but I believe she did issue a report,” said Okawa.
Almeida also had a problem with the receipts she received from Okawa. She said that she would not get receipts sometimes and that she needed them to be able to do her taxes.
“She needs to have a business check, so that it can be a business expense. Sometimes we would get checks from people we didn’t even know,” said Okawa.
One of the issues that ASU had with the lunch truck was that she issued a complaint about clubs fundraising, which took away from her profits.
“The clubs here at ELAC depend on the fundraising. It’s pretty much their life-source. We can’t have (Almeida) be making complaints about that,” said Garcia.
The Inter-Club Council of ELAC, which serves as a representative body between clubs and ASU, amended their bylaws and now there have been some changes to how clubs fundraise. According to the ICC bylaws, a club can only fundraise once a week and should submit the proper documents to student activities eight days prior to an event. Many students, whether in ASU or in other clubs, said that these bylaws were amended to accommodate Almeida’s complaints about the fundraising.
“The problem with the clubs is that when they fundraise, I know what they do. They just come over here and see my prices and cut out 25 cents and sell their stuff,” said Almeida.
Garcia said that the prices that students charge for their items in the fundraisers are low because, if they sold them for higher prices, no one would want to buy them. Other members along with Garcia, agreed that the lunch truck’s prices were too high and that is why Garcia sent a letter to Furukawa trying to resolve this issue. Furukawa refused to give any other comment regarding ASU’s complaints on the lunch truck.
“It was just time to make a change and do it formally,” said Furukawa.