SoCal Vendors Slam Effort To Ban Food Trucks Near Schools

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — School cafeterias may no longer have to compete with gourmet food trucks at Southland schools if one California lawmaker get his way.

KNX 1070’s Bob Brill reports on proposed legislation that would limit where food trucks can sell their meals in what’s being billed as an effort to provide healthier food choices for kids at school.

AB 1678 would prohibit food trucks and any other mobile food vendors to stay at least 1500 feet from any elementary or secondary school between the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Carmel), said he wants to keep students on school premises to eat lunches that legislators contend will reduce child obesity rates.

Not surprisingly, local food truck vendors are outraged over the proposal — and have even begun circulating an online petition to stop AB 1678.

“California is in the middle of any unprecedented financial crisis,” said the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association in a statement. “However, instead of using our limited legislative resources in an efficient manner, this Bill would put thousands of people out of work without actually addressing the issue of childhood obesity.”

Supporters have been forced to defend why the bill would keep food trucks at least twice the distance from schools as medical marijuana dispensaries.

“We’re neither competing with marijuana vendors or anybody else,” said Nicola Edwards with the California Food Policy Advocates. “We’re really just trying to get the best nutrition to students, and the way we see that is by ensuring that the students have access to the school meals.”

Edwards said it was pushcarts selling treats like pork rinds and sugary sodas — and not food trucks — that were the initial targets of the legislation.

More from Bob Brill
  • Rick

    The majority of kids who are obese get that way by what they are fed at home. In addition, the new ME generation needs to get their faces out of the various gadgets out there, go outside, throw a ball, frisbee, dig in the dirt and do something physical.

  • SactoMoFo

    The organization that wrote this bill for Assemblyman Monning presents no research tying food trucks to obesity behind this bill. They don’t address the thousands of other permanent, immobile sources of food – most of it far less healthy than what is served in school cafeterias – either. They don’t have any proof, any data, or anything other than the overused and insulting trope of “think of the children” to back up their claims-making.

    The entire bill is based on a program in Novato where food trucks, which were unfairly selling to school kids during school hours – because the school was unable to enforce the closed-campus policy – were banned. Unfortunately, the ban didn’t make kids any healthier: after the trucks were removed, school cafeteria sales, we are told, stayed flat. Students who were unwilling to buy school cafeteria food either went without or found other sources of unhealthy food – they didn’t suddenly start eating well.

    That should be enough to invalidate the argument in support of AB1678, but there’s more.

    The bill’s proponents – and there are not many outside of Assm. Monning himself and the group that wrote the bill (some of Monning’s colleagues in his own party are distancing them from this job-killing bill) don’t address that thousands of Californians who own, work on or provide material assistance to food trucks of all stripes – not just “gourmet” food trucks – will lose their livelihoods when 40-80% of California cities suddenly become no-sell zones under her proposed rule. Proponents don’t say how school kids should afford healthier food, if their parents lose their jobs, or how the district can keep up with expenses when the tax base is decreased due to all the folks who will be put out of work by this bill, all of whom will suddenly be on public assistance. They don’t address the fact that her organization has no right to tell adults where and when and what they can eat.

    Proponents also don’t mention how this bill will make food served at schools – which, even under the new (and very loose) federal guidelines is still full of processed starches and fats and low on vegetables and protein, with lunches frequently well over 700 calories – any more palatable or appealing to students. Because, really, that’s what this SHOULD BE about: making healthy food more approachable, interesting, and ultimately appealing to students.

    Killing competition to school lunch programs, both healthy and unhealthy, is not the solution. Because you need to know that the group that authored this bill is interested only in defending the public dollars spent on these programs – not actually increasing outcomes or reducing obesity except as a step toward that ultimate goal. If it were, she’d be encouraging healthy trucks to come to schools and making school food more appealing.

    PLEASE NOTE: making a comment here won’t stop this ridiculous bit of legislation. One thing that will help bring about its quick demise, though, is to sign this letter, which – with a click of a button – can be auto-submitted to the lobbying group that wrote this bill, as well as Assemblyman Monning, the sponsor of the bill, and Assembly committee leadership:

    It only takes a few seconds. Please tell your friends and pass this on to anyone who TRULY cares about California’s economic health AND our children’s health. This bill is nothing more than lip service to a true problem, and does far more to hurt California and its citizens than it does to help anyone.

    • johnny goodgenes

      save it… nobody cares…

  • Finally

    This is about money not children. The lawmaker has an investment in the food that is served to children at schools. If the children eat at these trucks then the lawmaker loses money.

  • johnny goodgenes

    im sick of having to look at fat people… plus roach coaches are gross

  • Edgar Friendly

    The high school my daughter attends has 3 fast food restaurants within the “magic” 1500 foot radius…will those be banned, also? And I suppose (since I live in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia), that school will also be adopting a nanny-state policy of scrutinizing my child’s home-packed lunch every day…?

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