San Francisco Schools May Impose Restrictions for Food Trucks

By: Michael Engle

A prospective state law was recently proposed in the California legislature, where food trucks would be forced to stay at least 1,500 feet from all schools--public and private; elementary, middle, and high--on all school days, from 6a to 6p.  (The San Francisco Financial District was specifically exempted from this law.)  However, instead of approval, this initiative was met with criticism.  San Francisco Chronicle correspondent Rachel Gordon covered this up-and-coming food fight (within the legislature, not the cafeteria) between Assemblyman William Monning (D-Santa Cruz), who wrote the original bill, and San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener.  Wiener worried that Monning's restrictions would yield unintended consequences, while suggesting that jurisdictions should be able to opt out of this law.

Naturally, a wide geographic restriction would force a constant number of food trucks to compete within decreased space.  San Francisco's Financial District would likely become more saturated with food trucks, as certain owners would hope to reestablish their businesses without having to be "too close" to a school.  While some food trucks may adapt to this new measure, it is hard to imagine that these businesses would thrive, compared to the current regulations.  Realistically, it is likely that many trucks would withdraw from the "street food" business, given less opportunity to make a profit with constant operating costs.

Those who support Monning's proposal may ask "since schools already have cafeterias, what difference would it make?" Location is crucial to food trucks' success.  By "protecting the kids" from the influence of non-cafeteria foods, this bill would be destined to impact professionals' lunchtime routines and morale, as newly annoyed workers would be deprived of their hot dogs, tacos, and soda because of their offices' proximity to schools.

Between Team Monning and Team Wiener, everybody agrees that excess salt and sugar should not be sold cheaply and conveniently enough to bankrupt school lunch programs, while sabotaging students' nutrition in the process.  Yet, as long as health and physical education may lose funding, you might as well be encouraged to burn a couple of calories on the way to and from lunch.

Photo: peterburnham

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