For the former law professor who came up with the idea, it just moves around some pieces on the board in the name of fighting childhood obesity. But for California’s fledgling food truck industry, it’s going to pack the punch of an earthquake.
And everyone agrees, it’s new territory.
Food trucks have had to carve out space in many local ordinances that limit where they can park and the hours they can operate. And, food trucks often have to comply with the same licensing and inspection regulations that apply to brick and mortar restaurants.
But in California, a state assemblyman wants to dictate where food trucks can go on a massive statewide basis. William Monning, elected four years ago, chairs the Assembly’s Health Committee.
He’s introduced Assembly Bill 1678 to keep all food trucks and push carts away from California schools and he got the measure assigned to his own committee. Monning wants to keep food trucks further away from schools than medical marijuana outlets.
The former law professor says he introduced the bill “to help California schools promote and protect student health by restricting mobile food vending near school campuses.”
Matt Geller, chief executive officer for the Southern California Mobile Food Vendor Association, is returning fire on his organization’s website, calling the bill ” flawed in many respects.”
“If enacted, the Bill would decimate the burgeoning mobile food industry without addressing the author’s concerns in any significant manner, “he says. “In many California cities, more than 80 percent of the public right of ways are within 1,500 feet of a school. Without suitable areas to operate, a large number of mobile restaurants will be forced out of business.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that Monning’s bill was actually “the brainchild of California Food Policy Advocates,” a group said to support better nutrition for low-income residents. It has apparently raised concern about the competition gourmet food trucks give to federally mandated nutrition changes in school cafeterias.
It seems the relatively new food truck phenomenon — 2,650 are now registered in Los Angeles County — is getting blamed for an obesity epidemic that has been years in the making.
Monning claims the state is making “investments” in healthier schools that “are being eroded by mobile food vending that competes with the healthful meals and snacks offered by schools through federally funded nutrition programs.”
Pushing food trucks away will have nothing to do with childhood obesity or juvenile diabetics, according to Geller. That’s because brick and mortar locations for fast food, convenience stores, and the like will continue within the restricted area, selling all sorts of “unhealthy” food.
Geller has launched an Internet petition drive in opposition to the bill, which might be catching on with the Twitter-savvy customers who often locate their favorite food truck through their mobile applications.
Also, the California United Family Loncheros Association, representing taco trucks with strong ties in the Hispanic community, is working against the bill.
One result of AB 1678 is that one would have to go twice as far from a school to make a food truck purchase than to buy medical marijuana.
AB 1678 prohibits mobile food and beverage vending within 1,500 feet of elementary and secondary school campuses from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on any day schools are in session. The bill also requires local health agencies to notify mobile food vendors of this restriction.
Medical marijuana can be sold within 600 feet of California schools.