Model Ordinance: Produce Carts

Model Ordinance: Produce Carts

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can help kids and families maintain healthy weight and prevent many chronic diseases. Unfortunately, too many Americans—especially people of color, rural, and lower-income populations—live in “food deserts” that lack full-service supermarkets and grocery stores.

In these food deserts, where only candy, chips, soda, and other junk foods are readily available, fresh “produce cart vendors” (like a produce stand on wheels!) can make a world of difference.

ChangeLab Solutions developed a Model Produce Cart Ordinance: Increasing Access to Fresh Produce by Creating a Permit Program for Sidewalk Produce Vendors (and Model Findings) to help create a streamlined permit program to make it easier for produce cart vendors to bring fresh, uncut fruits and vegetables from a mobile cart directly to a neighborhood. The ordinance sets forth model vendor requirements and rules, as well as a range of possible incentives (for example, priority consideration during the permit application process, discount permit fees, lower interest rate small business loans, and small business counseling and technical assistance) a local government may provide to encourage vendors to sell in neighborhoods that lack other sources of fresh produce.

Because state and local regulation of mobile and sidewalk food vendors varies widely, this model ordinance provides an overview of different regulatory frameworks, provides guidance to assist local communities in structuring the model ordinance to meet local conditions, and provides model language that can be tailored to a community’s needs.

Also, be sure to check out its accompanying fact sheet, Creating a Permit Program for Produce Cart Vendors, that provides an overview of the model ordinance and also describes the many benefits of produce cart vending. Produce cart vendors can travel deep into neighborhoods most in need of fresh produce, do not require large capital investments to start operations, and can adjust their inventory quickly to fit the unique cultural demands of a community. Communities that establish a permit program for produce cart vendors may also enjoy economic benefits in the form of increased small business opportunities, and neighborhood economic development and revitalization.