Chicago Aldermen Approves Initial Food Cart Regulation


After a recent city council vote, food carts have finally been made legal in the city of Chicago. Of course, the regulation doesn’t promise a street food frenzy for the consumer, but it’s still something worth looking into.

The interesting aspect of this, importantly, is the fact that by having pushcart, vendors require buying a business license, Chicago can possibly net about $8.5 million on an annual basis. This is, simply put, some fantastic news for the city of Chicago as it stands to profit from this ordinance.

Supposedly, this ordinance is the first step towards getting rid of even more restrictions related to food carts. The only problem with the current moves is the fact that Chicago has been considerably slow getting here, given that many other cities have already embraced  food carts by not only using them as a revenue stream, but also as a method of providing citizens with a wide variety of food choices at varying price points.

The chief sponsor of the measure, Ald. Roberto Maldonado stated that the ordinance will better regulate many of the health concerns that have often been cited as deterrents to street food expansion.  According to him, the food served on these carts will have to be made in licensed kitchens that are approved by the department of health. In addition another regulation demands that items should be fully wrapped since the ordinance restricts any type of food preparation on the carts, even the use of a knife. Handcarts and non-motorized pushcarts are both part of this ordinance as well.

chi-food-cartAccording to Maldonado, there are more than 1,500 vendors of food carts operating throughout the city of Chicago, and it is about time that the city embraced this category of entrepreneurs and granted them a legitimate status of their own. He believes that food cart vendors can definitely offer healthy food options and that it’s a right of all entrepreneurs of the great city to be productive citizens and play a part in the American dream.

Most of the food cart vendors are in support of this regulation, stating that they are tired of running away from the inspectors and police as they are unlicensed. As per the Street Vendors Justice Coalition, these vendors wish to do business outside the shadows of the law going forward. Maldonado brought this to light by referring to the numbers published by the Policy Institute of Illinois, which estimates the regulation of the food carts would ideally establish about 6,000 new job openings in the city of Chicago. In fact, the institute has also pushed for the street food cart vendors’ regulation as it will be a revenue stream for Chicago. According to the estimates from the institute, the existing food carts are mostly based in Hispanic and poor neighbourhoods.

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