Food Trucks Selling Junk Food Prey On Students


School districts have outlawed soda, chocolate milk, junk food of all types. They’ve added salad bars and whole wheat bread and are cutting out that staple food of teenagers everywhere, French fries. It’s a good strategy: Change the cafeteria options and, the thinking goes, you can get kids to eat better; you can put them on a life-long path to good nutrition and health.

Except. There’s one factor school districts and public health officials have failed to factor in: Food trucks that can pull right up near the school grounds and sell all those salty, sugary, banned-from-the-cafeteria junk food delights and make a nice profit to boot.

In recent years, junk food has in essence been banned from California school cafeterias on the basis of the calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar it contains. However, while you can hand a teenager fat-free turkey on whole wheat bread, you can’t make him or her eat it. According to the New York Times, so many food trucks have been showing up outside the grounds of middle and high schools in Novato in the Bay Area that cafeteria lunch sales have declined by 12 percent last year.

Teenagers know that the cafeteria food is better for them, but that does not mean they want to eat it. The food trucks’ bounty is “not really the most healthy choice, but it tastes better,” said Trent Eisenberg, 15, a sophomore who had bought a candy bar and chips from one of the trucks.

Rey Mayoral, the principal of Novato High, says that food truck drivers have even been paying students to save the best parking places for them.

Having observed the dietary habits and preferences of middle school, high school and college students, I have to say, the Novato school district’s food and nutrition services are fighting a losing, albeit noble, battle. Students seem quite willing to wait for their Hot Cheetos and Coke rather than have to eat what one student interviewed by the New York Times says is not “good food” (fruits and vegetables). Some 100 students line up to get their junk food lunch and the Novato school district has kowtowed to the pressure by reintroducing chocolate chip cookies to the menu. The PTA is trying to get an ordinance passed to address the situation:

About 1,000 residents have signed a letter circulated by parent-teacher associations asking Novato City Council members to “create an ordinance to prevent access of mobile food-vendor trucks within 1,500 feet” of all district schools. San Francisco already has a similar ordinance.

As 15-year-old Nathan Estrada says, such an ordinance won’t do much as he and other students “will just walk over there.”

At least they’d be getting a smidgeon of exercise.


Related Care2 Coverage

Marketing Junk Food To Kids Is Evil

By 2030, Half of Americans Will Be Obese

Chicago School Outlaws Homemade Lunches


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Duane B.
.4 years ago

If you don't allow students to leave campus at lunch, those in walking distance can't go home for lunch. If you allow students off campus some will make bad choices. At some point, however, don't parents need to hold their own student responsible for his/her actions? My parents did.

Dan and Tina Partlow
Daniel Partlow4 years ago

While the junk food peddlers have access to school zones, our kids will continue to make poor choices and get more and more unhealthy.

Sisilie B.
Sisilie B.4 years ago

People are willing to do anything for money....

Roberta T.
Roberta J.4 years ago

When I was a kid, we did not have fat children at school. I remember only one overweight child in my elementary school. Today - because we have so many entertainment options that were not available a few decades ago - our children's health is declining. The internet is more dangerous to children's waistlines than in any other way. Television has become the most common household baby-sitter. In school, children used to have physical education (via physical exercise) every day. Today, schools do not even offer physical activity for students daily.
I remember when there was a presidential council for Physical Fitness. I believe it was started by President Kennedy. President Kennedy was killed before I ever started school. His council for physical fitness was still very popular throughout my school days. What happened to that initiative? Now - thankfully - Michelle Obama is attempting to start something like that again. I hope it succeeds! Children these days need all of the initiative that they can get. They have no motivation. Instead, the children have an abundance of junk food and television and the internet and they can sit on their butts and play video games.

Dave C.
Dave C.4 years ago

some day many of these youngsters will regret eating all the junk food that they are eating today, but like so many things in life they unfortunately have to learn from their own mistakes. this is like so many other issues teens are challenged with.

I say, all society (adults) can do is their best and try to teach them from our mistakes, but I would also say that everything in moderation may be okay....they key being reasonable moderation.

we cannot legislate wisdom....

Laura Strobel
Past Member 4 years ago

When we were kids, there were a lot of junk food and all, but we didn't go crazy over it. I blame addition from watching TV nowadays that they go crazy over junk food. We have to do something about it for all kids so they can live long just like us.

Harshiita Sharma
Harshiita Sharma4 years ago

Excess of everything is bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And its the case with Junk Food too. Eat in linlited quantities,enjoy it ,indulge in it,but don't do it in excess.
I hope children and teens realize this!

Zoe B.
Zoe B.4 years ago

why are kids given money going to school.
kids need to be kids, not mini adults. They should not have the freedom and choices they have. It's at the ponit where kids are telling adults what to do.
Sickening spoiled little brats.
Sickening stupid lazy parents.

Kirsten Toby
Kirsten Toby4 years ago

This is sad. I think leaving campus should not be allowed then.

Craig Pittman
Craig Pittman4 years ago

When I went to school we had to brown bag our lunch ie. it was packed at home. I never had money in my pocket when I went to public school so I couldn't purchase junk food.
It's likely easier to influence the actions of our own children rather than to attempt to control the environment outside of the home. ie. food trucks, stores and restaurants.