A California state assemblyman has introduced a bill that would require food trucks to stay 1500 feet from elementary schools between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m (via LAist.com). The full text of the bill is available here, but legislation’s introductory remarks make clear that the good folks in Sacramento believe that meals served at school (you know, like the ones in Los Angeles which Jamie Oliver attempted to overhaul, to no avail) are healthier than those offered by the burgeoning food truck industry.
Specifically, Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Carmel) contend that “students who participate in the National School Lunch Program consume more milk and more nutrient-dense lunches than their nonparticipating peers” and that “mobile food vending increases students’ access to foods and beverages that are calorie rich, nutrient poor, and contribute to negative health outcomes like being overweight and obesity.” (Again, I find this somewhat difficult to fathom, considering the Los Angeles Unified School District bowed to student complaints earlier this year and deep-sixed healthy items like brown rice and quinoa in favor of items like pizza and burgers…but I digress.)
The bill went to print on February 24, but vociferous opposition to it has already mounted in San Francisco, Sacramento, and LA.
According to Jonathan Kaufman of SF Weekly, SactoMoFo, a Sacrament0-based advocacy group, has started a letter petition to Assemblyman Monning urging retreat on the legislation. (You can sign the petition here.) And according to the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association,
“If enacted, the Bill would decimate the burgeoning mobile food industry without addressing the author’s concerns in any significant manner. In many California cities, more than 80 percent of the public right of ways are within 1500 feet of a school. Without suitable areas to operate a large number of mobile restaurants will be forced out of business. Yet, even with food trucks out of business, children will have plenty of access to “unhealthy” food. Even if one accepts the Author’s claim that students on closed campuses leave school to obtain unhealthy food, the Bill will do nothing to curb this alleged threat. The Bill does not purport to ban the sale of any particular type of food. So fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and gas station stores will continue to operate within the restricted area offering all manner of ‘unhealthy’ food.” (via SoCalMFVA).
The bill may be heard in committee on March 16th. I’m in the process of reaching out to local San Diego food trucks for their perspective on this issue. Stay tuned.