Hijinio Camacho, known as “El Elotero” by his loyal patrons, knows how to make a comeback.
The popular vendor, known for selling Mexican treats such as mangonadas, elotes and raspados on UC Santa Barbara’s campus, went viral on Twitter in early January after a student posted about his return to selling the beloved snacks, this time from a food truck.
“Todo los jóvenes de la universidad están muy contentos. Le dan mucho gusto. Llegan y me saludan,”” Camacho said in an interview with the Nexus. “Creo que va hacer un éxito.”
“All the young people of the university are very happy. They like [the truck] a lot. They come and they greet me,” Camacho said. “I believe it will be a success.”
UCSB prohibited Camacho from selling food on campus in 2017 due to violations with its Environmental Health and Safety policies for off-campus food vendors.
Camacho then began collecting funds to transfer his business from the small blue cart he used on campus to a new food truck. He used money from his savings in addition to a loan to bring the project to life.
“Empezó el proyecto cuando desde el momento que nos sacaron de la universidad,” Camacho said.
“The project started from the moment they took us out from the university,” Camacho said.
Camacho previously sold food on campus in collaboration with student organizations from UCSB for fundraising events when the Office of Student Life still gave permits to vendors like Camacho to sell on campus.
Some of the student organizations that Camacho worked with tried to raise money for Camacho after he was banned from selling on campus. Mujeres Unidas por Justicia, Educación y Revolución (M.U.J.E.R. de UCSB) created a GoFundMe page to fundraise money for Camacho’s new food truck.
GoFundMe later refunded the money because M.U.J.E.R. was unaware of the time limit policy on fundraisers, according to M.U.J.E.R. former co-chair Dulce Gonzalez.
The inside of the truck has a built-in kitchen with a freezer, an ice machine and three sinks for Camacho to prepare his products.
Currently, Camacho sells food in Isla Vista, Goleta, Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. He hopes to expand his service by obtaining additional permits so he can sell his treats in Lompoc, Santa Maria, Paso Robles and other nearby places.
Camacho likes to frequent the parking lot across the street from Wells Fargo, where other I.V. food trucks set up shop as well, to access students leaving or entering the university through the Pardall Tunnel.
In addition to the usual food Camacho sells, he now offers paletas, a Mexican frozen ice pop that usually comes in flavors like mango or strawberry.
Despite his success with the launch of the food truck, Camacho still hopes to be able to sell on campus again. He is working on obtaining the proper permits from the university to return to selling on campus in addition to off campus with the food truck.
Camacho said that in the end, having the truck would help him help students.
“He querido ayudar los grupos de la universidad, que todo los grupos tienen una mayor necesidad, que todos tenemos una mayor necesidad de como pagar renta de pagar comida,” Camacho said.
“Esa fue la idea que me hizo a mi hacer la troca, para seguir ayudando hacer los eventos.”
“I’ve wanted to help the groups of the university, all the groups that have a major necessity, like how to pay the rent or pay for food. ” Camacho said.
“That was the idea which made me do the truck, to continue helping put on the events.”
Correction [Jan. 25, 12:30 p.m.]: A previous version of this article stated that Hijinio was not aware of what happened to the money raised for him through GoFundMe. GoFundMe later refunded the money raised for Hijinio due to time constraints. This article has been updated to reflect that.
Arturo Martinez contributed reporting.
A version of the article appeared on p.1 of the Jan. 24, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Sofia Mejias-Pascoe is an asst. news editor at the Daily Nexus and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.