Lunch War; Food Truck or School Cafeteria?


POSTED: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 9:28pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 25, 2012 - 9:43am

Area school districts say they are doing their part to keep your kids' diet healthy during their lunch periods, but what about food trucks that park across the street from your child's school?
Does it defeat the purpose of schools trying to serve healthy food options?

The City of El Paso requires that all food trucks park at least two blocks away from schools, but some say that is two blocks too close.
Last year, Steven Hernandez started a business called Create Gourmet Eats. He frequently parks his food truck across the street from an El Paso high school because student money is a big part of his business.
"We have a great deal of followers that go there. Not only does the church come out, the people around there do, so does the students,” said Hernandez.
At most high schools, students are allowed to eat lunch off campus. For many, that means ordering whatever their taste buds desire. Sometimes that means an item from the food truck menu.
The El Paso Department of Public Health says that most food trucks don't offer healthful options.
“In some cities, I mean there is a lot food trucks that are serving gourmet food, vegetarian foods, vegan food, Indian food, and some of it actually is really healthy. El Paso a lot of times tends to be a little slow on catching up on the trends, but I mean if there is a demand for it, I'm sure someone will respond to that,” said city dietitian Celeste Care.

Care says students can make a difference.

"The food trucks, they are a very small business, so they are going to respond if kids are requesting, 'Can we have bottle water? Can we have fruits and vegetables?' They are going to make those changes. So, they are just going to respond to what the customers are asking for,” said Care.

Earlier this year, we showed you what The Ysleta and Canitullo Independent School Districts were doing to improve their cafeteria foods, like introducing more colorful vegetables to get students'  attention.
The El Paso Independent School District's Director of Food Services, Nancy Nordell says that the district is also working hard to get students excited about healthful eating.
"There is a lot of changes. You'll see more varied vegetables I think than possibly in the past,” said Nordell.

Nordell says the district can't be the only ones with the job of educating teens about good diet choices.
"It is very important that what they learn at school, they are also being taught at home, and it's being reinforced at home. So, there is a lot of parent education that needs to take place as well, and that's happening,” said Nordell.
Food truck owner Steven Hernandez says his food truck offers more fresh items than most in The Borderland, such as vegetarian burgers and fresh asparagus. He says that's important if you sell to children.
“They should really take a definite approach, a different approach on the menu as far as health reasons,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez also says if the city permit to sell food in downtown El Paso was less expensive, more food truck owners who sell fatty foods wouldn't target schools as often. 


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