Who doesn’t love a food truck? California Assemblyman Bill Monning apparently isn’t the world’s biggest fan. This week the 27th Assembly District representative introduced AB 1678, a piece of legislation that would require mobile food vendors of any kind (food trucks included) to park a minimum of 1,500 feet away from public schools between 6AM and 6PM on school days.
The assembly bill isn’t meant to be malicious. Rather, it’s made with the best intentions in mind – backed by the group California Food Policy Advocates, it comes from a place of apprehension that students might be stuffing themselves with Atomic Warheads and Bomb Pops from the local ice cream truck instead of a nutritious and balanced lunch. In theory, it’s a valid concern.
“All students deserve access to healthful food. The mobile vending of unhealthful snacks like ice cream, chips, and sugar sweetened beverages near school campuses undermines efforts to provide students with the nutrition they need,” stated Monning in a press release. “At a time when childhood obesity is at epidemic levels, we must ensure that our school environments foster student wellness.” Monning also noted that food trucks near school campuses give students incentive to leave during lunch, which “increases students' exposure to off-campus hazards such as heavily trafficked streets."
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But the problem that makes this bill so misguided is that doesn’t just target ice cream trucks. (And hey, who doesn’t love ice cream trucks anyway?) It puts all mobile vending at risk, including those selling fresh, local, healthful cuisine that most kids could only dream of for lunch – after all, in a world where pizza sauce is a vegetable, let’s not kid ourselves that a school-provided lunch is always the best option for healthful food.
And here’s the other thing – students with off-campus lunch privileges are going to go off-campus for lunch. It’s just a given. Even students without official off-campus lunch privileges will still find a way to turn homeroom period into an opportunity for a burrito lunch. It’s just a fact of life. But with fast and fresh food trucks in play, at least kids can have options beyond the usual fast food franchises and convenience stores.
A map of Sacramento school buffers quickly illustrates exactly what a drastic effect this bill could have on the mobile food industry. Concerned California citizens are urged to contact Monning at 916-319-2027 (Capitol office), 831-425-1503 (Santa Cruz district office) or at email@example.com.