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Eating for a cause: Oncology research group holds food truck fundraiser

BrUOG invites Citizen Wing, Mijos to food truck festival to raise money for cancer research

The Brown University Oncology Research Group held its second annual food truck festival outside the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts Saturday. The event was designed to welcome parents and families onto campus for Family Weekend, as well as to raise funds for BrUOG.

Founded in 1994, BrUOG focuses its research on innovative cancer treatment therapy and gears treatment specifically toward local patients. The center is a “grassroots, ground-level group that (the Brown community) should really be proud of,” said Kristen Mitchell, BrUOG’s clinical research coordinator.

The food trucks in attendance were Championship Melt, Citizen Wing, Ellie’s Bakery, Mijos Tacos and Z Food Truck. The festival also featured live music from Brown student performers. A portion of all food truck sales went to BrUOG.

The first food truck festival was last year, Mitchell said. Derek Shay ’16 initiated the festival to celebrate BrUOG’s 20th anniversary and to fundraise for its research, Mitchell added.

This year, Shay’s younger brother, Jack Shay ’18, organized the festival and made a few changes. First, he proposed having student musicians perform at the event. Jack Shay said that student performers helped make the festival-goers feel more connected to the event.

Oliver Hu ’18, one of the singers at the festival, said, “It was a pretty good way to draw a crowd. People were hanging out and chatting and watching. … Having the performances helped people stay.” 

In addition, BrUOG focused this year on picking food trucks that were both popular on campus and that supported cancer research, Jack Shay said.

“Up until recently BrUOG has been largely unnoticed,” Jack Shay said, adding that one of BrUOG’s objectives for this year is to become a larger presence in the Brown community.

Tia Forsman ’19 MD’23, a PLME student who volunteered at the festival, said, “A lot of people were there and getting food from the food trucks, but they didn’t know what it was for.” She said her role was to hand brochures to festival-goers to spread awarness of BrUOG and the purpose of the festival.

BrUOG’s local focus is what makes the festival and the center’s other fundraisers compelling, Forsman said. It was “easier for people to donate because they knew it was (for) a local community,” she added.

Jack Shay said that placing the festival on Family Weekend helped to maximize donations as well.

Forsman agreed that the timing of the event was “strategic.” “I was really surprised by how many people donated and how generous they were. People were really receptive,” she said.


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