Joplin Students Learn About Food Trucks and (Perhaps) Government Regulations
Students in a Joplin-area high school recently engaged in the school’s annual “Food Truck Competition.” In this event, student teams design miniature food trucks, construct a sample menu, and prepare some of the foods from that menu for a taste testing. The entire event sounds like a great, fun project for the students to learn about design, cooking, and hopefully future entrepreneurship.
If these students do one day get into the food truck business, one thing they will learn about is government regulation. Food trucks in Missouri are overregulated in many parts of the state—sometimes they are outright banned from operating in certain cities. While everyone would agree there are some safety rules that should apply to food trucks, such as not blocking busy intersections or parking in dangerous places, many places still engage in protectionism against them in favor of sit-down restaurants.
In some locales food trucks can operate, but not within a set distance from brick-and-mortar locations. That compromise is better than a total ban, and it may be a political necessity in some cities.
How are the food truck regulations in Joplin that these students may one day encounter? The good news is that the city allows them in the first place, and there does appear to be an active foot truck scene in the community.
But the regulations for food trucks appear to be heavy-handed. Don’t get me wrong, I know they are heavy-handed for restaurants, too. The obsession with “safety” in health regulations has led to things like banning popular (and perfectly safe) bake sales at schools. For example, in Joplin’s regulations I fail to see why a food truck has to:
“report to an approved commissary daily for servicing, food prep and cleaning”
There are other regulations on the list that seem unnecessary, but that is typical for the field.
But at least Joplin kids will be able to operate a food truck if they so desire, getting a real-world education in government regulations at the same time.