Guess what might get kicked out of school?
Food trucks, if one California legislator has his way.
Assemblyman Bill Monning has proposed a state law to ban food trucks from selling within 500 yards of a campus from breakfast until dinner time on any day that students are attending.
"You're creating an attractive nuisance," the Carmel Democrat said of food trucks. "You're pulling them away from a nutritious school lunch to go out and buy sodas and junk food."
Monning said his Assembly Bill 1678 takes aim at a "public epidemic of youth obesity" that saddles many with diabetes or other health problems.
"We're sentencing these kids to a miserable adulthood and much of that treatment will be at public expense," he said. "We're trying to head off a disaster that's already unfolding."
The bill would make wide swaths of many communities off-limits: Forty-three square miles of Sacramento would be affected, for example, roughly 44 percent of the city, according to GPS analysis by The Bee.
Critics say it makes little sense to target vending trucks but do nothing about fast-food restaurants, pizza parlors, doughnut shops, ice cream parlors or other such businesses.
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.
Besides, it is not clear how frequently food trucks park near campuses now or how many students buy from them.
Two of the capital region's largest school districts, Sacramento City and Elk Grove, said their campuses are closed and students are prohibited from leaving to buy lunch.
Owner Davin Vculek of Mini Burger, a Sacramento food truck, said he does not sell near schools and does not know of any other vendors that do.
Nonetheless, Vculek does not support passage of a blanket ban prohibiting vending within wide swaths of cities or counties. In San Francisco, for example, AB 1678 would be devastating, he said.
Vculek said it is wrong to stereotype all food trucks as selling low-quality foods that can be harmful to a child's diet. His hamburgers are fresh beef and his toppings are made in-house from scratch, he said.
"I know schools do the best they can, this comment is no disrespect to them, but there is a lot of processed food that's being fed to our children in our schools," Vculek said. "It seems like they're going after the wrong thing first."
Sacramentans interviewed randomly Friday had mixed opinions about AB 1678.
Jeff Milliken, 58, said he would not want to rush to judgment on the proposed law.
"Depends on the food," he said. "If they're going to feed kids lousy food, then I don't think it's a good idea," Milliken said of vendors.
Madison Woodworth, 18, said that she doesn't like to eat in her school's cafeteria and that won't change whether AB 1678 passes or not.
"I would choose fast food over it," she said.
Kathy Saenz, 37, said that parents need to teach their children to make healthy choices, not expect the state to ban forms of free enterprise.
But Saenz said she once lived in North Sacramento and people in hand carts would sell churros, pork rinds and other low-quality foods using equipment that did not always appear clean, she said.
Monning said decisions about hand carts and other details of AB 1678 will be made as the bill undergoes committee hearings.
Vculek said he will not make an accusation, but he can't help but wonder whether restaurateurs that oppose food trucks may be behind AB 1678 as another way to regulate the industry.
"It's interesting that the bill doesn't include fast food restaurants," he said.
Spokesman Daniel Conway said the California Restaurant Association has taken no position on AB 1678 but has concerns about setting a precedent of banning vendors from selling foods near campuses.
"Any proposal like this that treats restaurants like strip clubs or sexual predators obviously catches our attention," Conway said.
Monning said his bill is sponsored by an advocacy group for children's nutrition. It is not motivated by a specific desire to protect school cafeteria jobs or hurt food trucks.
The goal simply is to create a buffer zone to benefit kids, Monning said.
"We would not allow vendors to set up and sell cigarettes to these kids," he said. "The public health impact of some of this food is as devastating."