In San Francisco, food trucks are subject to yet another proposal that might ban them from nearly every neighborhood in the city. This new proposal is geared towards promoting children’s health by limiting food truck operations near schools. Assemblyman William Monning hopes to bar food trucks from operating within 1,500 feet of any public or private school from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on school days.
Monning feels that food trucks play a critical role in undermining healthful nutrition in schools, and by regulating food trucks the city stands its best chance at combating childhood obesity. However not all politicians feel the same way about this new food truck proposal. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said Monning’s proposal is an “extreme piece of legislation that takes us exactly in the wrong direction. It removes local control in terms of deciding where we as a locality can or cannot put food trucks. It’s a one-size-fits-all for all of California.”
Wiener has recently urged Monning to drop his proposal or allow local jurisdictions to opt out, and Monning has acknowledged these concerns, and said he is open to editing his proposal, which will be heard in late March or early April. Wiener is trying to take food truck regulation in the opposite direction, moving forward with a proposed amendment that would allow food trucks to park one block away from schools, rather than the current limit at three blocks away.
Wiener hopes to seek a balance with his proposed amendment, protecting the current school lunch programs while still allowing food trucks to operate in commercial areas throughout the city. The San Francisco Board of Education is most concerned with the junk food that some of these food trucks offer. According to Board member Rachel Norton, “we don’t want to see the return of roach coaches near our school that sell high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar food and drinks.”
Many community members want to see food trucks allowed to operate freely, and would appreciate if more people were given the opportunity to enjoy San Francisco’s food truck experience. Food trucks provide entrepreneurs a unqiue opportunity to start their own business with a comparatively low overhead cost. However, those in the know about current school dynamics say that there is more than meets the eye in this situation.
Caroline Grannan, a mother of two public school students does not want food trucks to be a large presence on school campuses. She says the 1,500-foot protective zone was chosen for more complicated reasons than just health, that there are equity issues at stake here as well. Food and beverages purchased from food trucks cost more than what low-income students who received free or reduced meals can afford. With food trucks present, poorer students are easily identified and excluded from eating food off campus. In addition, income will be drained from the school food program, leaving less money for school lunch to serve students who are unable to afford it.
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