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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Food Truck Ban

In a perfect world, food trucks and schools can work together to fight back against obesity.


Mobile vendors are battling a bill proposed in California that would limit
food trucks from serving  food within 1500 feet of a public school.

The goal of the proposition is to prevent unhealthful snacks, such as
hamburgers, fries, chips and cookies from the students’ diet, aiming at
battling against childhood obesity. Many parents, students, and food
truck managers are having a hard time swallowing this one.

“I think It's ridiculous. I don't think there should be any limits on
competition,” said Scott Polston, a Foothill High School parent. “I
think if somebody is providing a healthier or better tasting meal, the
state shouldn't be defending the schools to be able to keep the revenue
up for the schools.”

Mobile food kitchens come to schools, like Foothill High School, serving lunch
 for students daily and dinner for families in the evening weekly.

The food trucks are not only involved to make a profit, but they help
school’s raise money for specific school programs. At Foothill High,
many food trucks gather at the school every Friday night and pay $30 for
 a spot, donating this money to the school’s athletic department.

“We are bringing six trucks and giving people options to try different
food,” said Gerardo Munoz, owner of the Desi-Amigo Mexican and Indian
fusion food truck. “We are going to try to help create some events every
 week to help the schools.”

Students find these fundraisers a good opportunity to try a variety of food that they don’t normally get at school.

“It’s nice. It’s different and better than what they serve here,” said
Everett Hudspetch, a Foothill High freshman. “If it weren’t for this,
I’d be ordering pizza at home.”

Schools have been working to improve school nutrition programs, but many
students said they still find little to no variety in the cafeteria day
after day.

“Our cafeteria food is like pizza and all greasy things,” said Thalia
Calderon, a Foothill High junior. “This is much healthier than that.”

However, the gourmet food trucks that provide the healthier, nutritious meals
are not what is always accessible to the students at their schools.

“In the whole food truck craze that we are experiencing, the really cool,
fancy, nouveau trucks are not going to be the ones showing up at
school,” said Erin McDonald, a registered dietitian. “The kids don't
have that kind of disposable income to pay for the kind of foods that
these trucks are going to sell.”

Most of these gourmet meals can reach up to $10, which would be just as
expensive as eating out at a restaurant. Since these gourmet trucks can
be more expensive, the more unhealthy trucks are the easily accessible
trucks that roll up to the schools.

“The kind of foods that are going to be coming are what known as Roach
Coaches,” said McDonald, “which is just selling things like hamburgers,
french fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, greasy greasy, bad-for-you

Banning these trucks won’t necessarily fix the obesity monster this generation
of children have faced. The school needs to widen it’s variety of foods
and take control of more areas that just nutrition.

“Let the schools make healthier foods. Make the food on campus better,” said
 McDonald. “Don’t serve them tater tots, hamburgers and grilled cheese.”

In a perfect world, food trucks and schools can work together to fight back against obesity.

“I'd love to see the school board get on board to make a school food truck
and do a test study and have really great, good-for-you foods on the
trucks,” McDonald said.

The food trucks are hoping to find a way to cooperate with the schools and the state to be apart of this process.

“If the school wants something healthy, give me an option,” said Munoz. “I
can bring in a different menu, which will be healthy.”

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