Assembly Bill 1678 was introduced by Assembly Member Bill Monning (D-Carmel) last week to prohibit mobile food trucks from operating within 1,500 feet of a primary or secondary school campus between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on school days. According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, this would mean that mobile food trucks would be off-limits in forty-three square miles of the city, affecting 44 percent of Sacramento.
The press release sent out announcing the introduction of Assembly Bill 1678 quotes Assembly Member Monning as saying, "The mobile vending of unhealthful snacks like ice cream, chips, and sugar sweetened beverages near school campuses undermines efforts to provide students with the nutrition they need."
However, this bill would not apply to actual restaurants that sell unhealthful food. As the Sacramento Bee points out, "At McClatchy High School in Sacramento, for instance, a doughnut shop, two pizza parlors, a McDonald's, a Subway sandwich spot, a taco shop and an ice cream shop are within a short walk." And the electronic newsletter "The Nooner" pointed out that the McClatchy High School cafeteria lists items such as "pizza, chili dogs, kung pao chicken, popcorn chicken bowl, beef burrito, or enchilada pie" on their menu for the month. It seems as though the food offered by some of our local mobile food trucks might be a nutritional step up from the food served in many school cafeterias.
If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I think mobile food trucks hold great possibilities for vegan diners. Mai Pham recently launched a new mobile food truck to carry her popular Star Ginger menu, which includes several vegan items, to the UC Davis campus. Other mobile food trucks in the Sacramento area offer vegan options as well. Wicked Wich has vegan Italian sausage or kolbassi sandwiches, and Smoothie Patrol can make smoothies for vegans by substituting soy milk for regular milk. I was told by a representative of Mama Kim Cooks at the recent Sacramento VegFest that they usually have a vegan option available at their food truck.
My first mobile food truck experience as a vegan was in 2004 with the Roots-N-Kulchah truck, where Kimba Kabaka and James "Roots" Ortiz used to serve up vegan Caribbean cuisine at the corner of 24th and K streets. Unfortunately, they had to shut down when the city passed an ordinance requiring mobile food trucks to move every thirty minutes and cease operations at sundown. This ordinance has come under fire recently as being unduly burdensome, especially in light of the rising popularity of food trucks and the growing demand for their food offerings. The Sacramento City Council's Law and Legislation Committee is supposed to be taking another look at this issue.
Legislative attacks on mobile food trucks often come from the brick-and-mortar restaurant industry because of concerns that mobile food trucks might take away some of their business. But the spokesman for the California Restaurant Association, Daniel Conway, said of Assembly Bill 1678, "Any proposal like this that treats restaurants like strip clubs or sexual predators obviously catches our attention." Hear, hear!
Mobile food trucks have enriched Sacramento's culinary scene with their diverse food options and their ability to bring inexpensive but creatively-prepared food to convenient locations. It would be a travesty if this misguided and draconian legislation were to pass and kill this budding movement. Please consider sending an e-mail to Assembly Member Monning at Assemblyman.Monning@assembly.ca.gov to let him know of your concerns about Assembly Bill 1678. Also, please ask your local Assembly Member and State Senator to oppose this bill if it comes before them for a vote. You can follow this link to find out who your local representatives are and to link to their web pages: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html.