My former Times colleague Casey Corr, who is running for the Seattle City Council seat held by Richard Conlin, has put out a witty press release about the Council’s attempt to get high school kids to stop eating pizza from street vendors.
The story is apparently this: in an attempt to promote student health, and satisfy the moms who fret about obesity and junk food, the Seattle School Board has required school cafeterias to stop serving certain sugary or greasy foods. At high schools with open campuses, many kids are buying lunch elsewhere. One place is from vendors who sell hot pizza—hot, salty, fatty, delicious pizza—from the back of trucks.
These trucks are supposed to be no closer to the school than 200 feet. The Seattle City Council has now expanded that to 1,000 feet, in an effort to ruin the vendors’ businesses and herd the students back to the official cafeterias. This is supposed to be on account of their health, but the political pressure comes from the union for the cafeteria employees, who are concerned with their jobs.
I remember what it was like to be a high school student—still under adult control, but chafing at it. I know if I were there I’d be cheering for the pizza trucks, and booing the city council. The school board, too. Especially them.
As a parent of a boy about to go to high school, I rue my son's attraction to pizza. I like it about once a month; he could eat it every other day and with the same topping on it each time. I understand the politicians’ urge to save our youth by promoting better nutrition, but I think it’s a lost cause, and further, I think this goes too far toward social engineering. Basically it is not the business of the city council to concern itself with what students eat for lunch. And I have a certain admiration for the entrepreneurial zeal of folks who bake and sell the pizzas. There’s a market, and they’re serving it even if the public schools won’t.
Respond to Bruce.