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Ross Resnick Headshot

First Graders and Food Trucks

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Flickr: stu_spivack
Flickr: stu_spivack

Assemblyman Bill Monning's proposed bill in California, AB 1678, requiring food trucks to stay further than 1500 feet of an elementary school, just doesn't make sense.

With this bill, food trucks move up the ladder to public school enemy number two, implying they are more obesity causing than fast food, more habit forming than liquor stores and just a bit less offensive than sex offenders (at 2000 feet) living next door to a schoolyard. If your children being exposed to porn, cigarettes and alcohol (sold in the same place they go to buy candy, soda and chips) is less offensive to you than pho, naan and sisig then, well, we may just have other issues.

I find it tough to swallow that banning food trucks proactively encourages our kids to eat healthier. Continuing conversations regarding healthy food choices at lunch, Jamie Oliver and teaching our kids to eat healthy constantly point towards offering quality, healthy meals at lunch and increasing awareness of a sustainable food supply chain. If we want to affect real change with the way our kids eat, resources should be focused on teaching kids to understand food, not shy away from what they don't know (which at many times results in default to fast food familiars).

Logistically, this bill hardly does anything to further prevent children from frequenting food trucks at lunch. Elementary school students are not allowed to leave campus for lunch. I also can't imagine a 4th grader shelling out the money to buy a $10 second-lunch from a gourmet food truck. Over a month at 5 days a week, he would be spending over $200 on food truck food. Highly unlikely.

Kids are also notoriously familiarity focused eaters. They like what they know. And mobile food is thriving based on the notion of unfamiliar foods, world cuisine and cultural mashups. Unlike fast food, which is based on American comfort food favorites, food truck fare is typically structured for a more developed palate. Yes, there are trucks that serve up desserts but there have always been ice cream trucks and candy trucks, one used to drive right up to my house in the suburbs and sell me as much candy as I could possibly stomach.

We speak with a lot of food truck entrepreneurs who are just getting started and a major recurring theme we hear is that truck operators are striving to build menus with organic, local, sustainable meats and produce. They are trying to improve the way people eat by making quality food more accessible and affordable. Check out The Green Truck, MIHO, Veritas, Seabirds, Hapa SF, Organic Oasis and PattyWagon just to name a few based in California.

With one dollar or less offerings from nearly every single fast food chain, it is difficult to understand the selection of banning food trucks over brick and mortar fast food restaurants. I could go on for paragraphs about how fast food is marketed to maximize youth recruitment so they become eaters for life -- starting with a free toy which I had an entire closet filled with -- but I won't.

This bill would effectively destroy what many Californians have enjoyed at lunch: diversity of food. If this bill passed, many of the location where food trucks serve would become off limits, even for hungry adults. This would leave thousands of people who frequent a daily international food court left without options... and I really can't understand why.

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