The allure of a food truck’s tinkling bell draws crowds of students after school. For a few dollars, students can load up with ice cream, chips and other snacks.
At , food trucks and carts promptly line up at the curb at the kindergarten dismissal, regular dismissal and when the after school program ends, said Principal Amanda Rothengast. She added that these vendors know the school’s schedule for early dismissal.
“These food trucks do not belong in front of our schools,” Rothengast said. “We know students do better academically when they are eating healthy and staying physically active.”
Assemblyman William Monning (D-Santa Cruz) has proposed banning food trucks from operating within 1500 feet of a public or private schools from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, legislation that Rothengast said she supports.
There currently is no zoning law in Redwood City or San Mateo County that prevents food vendors positioning their trucks mere inches from the curb, according to the district’s Nutrition Director, Anna Lague.
She said she has been working with the county’s Health System on this particular issue for the past six years. She and the county were able to publish a plan called “Strategies for Improving Food and Physical Activity Environments in San Mateo County.” It also involves a committee to specifically address food vendors outside schools.
Many students in the district , yet still choose to purchase junk food from food vendors because of the taste appeal, Lague added.
What Does the District Offer?
The district’s wellness policy emphasizes healthy eating with strict nutritional guidelines in the cafeteria. At breakfast and lunch, the schools must provide healthy choices like fruits and vegetables and low calorie options.
For breakfast, students have options like the 270-calorie omelet, the 371-calorie waffle with egg or several pieces of fruit. Students can purchase breakfast before school or at recess, but not both.
Example lunch items include the 266-calorie Arroz con Pollo, the 363-calorie Chicken Caesar Salad and the 300-calorie Mt. Mike’s whole grain pizza.
These healthy, and low-calorie, options are important to curb an increasing child obesity epidemic.
“At the same time, we also have more and more students struggling with weight issues,” Rothengast added.
As soon as the bell rings, the emphasis on nutrition is undermined by the food trucks that sell inexpensive junk food mere yards from the gates.
“It is a shame when we work so hard to send the message of being healthy on our school grounds,” Rothengast said, “then the vendors sell the inexpensive junk food to our students right outside our gates.”
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