For $3.50, Edgar, a sophomore, purchased a bag of Hot Cheetos, a can of Coca-Cola and a package of Airheads Xtremes candy.
In the school cafeteria, the menu included a chicken sandwich with roasted potatoes or a veggie burger with garlic fries for $3.25. While there were chips for sale, they were Baked Lay’s.
In recent years, the state has restricted the calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar in à la carte items for sale in the cafeterias. Novato Unified School District has gone beyond the state’s requirements, even abolishing chocolate milk.
Yet, as the school lunch offerings in the cafeteria have become more restrictive, snack food trucks have moved in, sometimes as many as four at a time. And the drivers have been aggressively pursuing the business, even paying the students to save the best parking spots for them, said Rey Mayoral, the principal of Novato High.
The food trucks have hurt the school cafeterias’ bottom line. Last year, lunch sales in middle and high schools in the district were down by 12 percent.
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.
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.
A perfect case how personal choices are made in relation to institutional arrangement