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While you may not be able to get your teenager off the couch and into the kitchen to make dinner, a team of sophomore students at High Tech High doesn’t need much prompting. The group of 52 students has big dreams of launching its own student-run food truck. After nearly seven months of detailed preparation, they officially launched their Kickstarter appeal Tuesday morning.

While the food – a fusion of Latin American and Asian – may be fairly simple (think chicken katsu tacos or asada egg rolls), the project itself is ambitious. Students have 45 days to raise $35,000 to fund their Reel Delicious (clever!) food truck concept. That money will cover the cost of a fully functional used food truck, and the expenses needed to start the business.

“The students have been working in committees to make sure we have all aspects of the business covered: legal, finance, public relations, a cooking team, a group that will focus on sourcing local, organic and sustainable products, a video crew and more,” said Liz Perry, a 10th grade humanities and Spanish teacher and one of three teacher-supervisors involved in the project.

The truck concept is more than a glorified home-ec lesson or tutorial on how to operate a small business. The real goal, said Perry, is to use the truck as a way to explore cultural understanding. Food and film are just the tools to get there.

“It will be a nonprofit business for the school, and will help us create a student-run film festival to create dialogue for students in San Diego County,” she said.

The hope is to partner with existing film festivals, like the San Diego Latino Film Festival and the Asian Film Festival. The truck won’t be roaming San Diego streets, but will be used on site at scheduled events and festivals.

“We’ll have a flat screen on the side of the truck for daytime viewing and projector for night-time viewing,” said Perry. “We’re open to screening and showing a variety of movies – full length films to shorts.”

Perry said it’s a risk to ask the students to put in this kind of effort with no guarantee that the funding will come.

“They’ve worked tirelessly. All 52 students received their food handlers’ permit. They’re all legally allowed to prepare food,” said Perry. “As 15- and 16-year olds, to take a risk as large as this and risk not being funded? That’s the scariest and most challenging part.”

It’s not the only challenge. For 10th grader Rachel Dunkin, the team’s public relations manager, the project meant getting over her shy nature.

“Before this project I was really shy, but I’ve gained knowledge on how to speak in public and reach out to the community. Other students have learned how to put together recipes. We’ve all learned a lot of new skills,” said Dunkin.

While they might be the newest kids on the block trying to fund a food project through Kickstarter, they’re not the only San Diego effort out there. Nose-to-tail butchers Trey Nichols and James Holtslag surpassed their $50,000 Kickstarter goal in a mere 30 days.

Nichols’ advice for the kids at High Tech High?

“Get your name out as much as you can locally. It’s a food truck. Most people who will get behind this would be local,” he said. “And once it’s launched, keep doing updates. Use them to say ‘thank you’ or to release another reward.”

Rewards are key to the Kickstarter model.

A pledge of $15 toward the Reel Delicious project will get you a sticker. A pledge of $1,000 will get you a catered dinner for six and a movie.

Clare Leschin-Hoar

Clare Leschin-Hoar is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow her on Twitter @c_leschin or email her

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