Healthy Mobile Vending Policies
A fact sheet about regulations to promote healthy eating
Mobile vending is loosely defined as selling food out of any portable vehicle, including trucks, carts, trailers, roadside kiosks, and stands. Mobile vendors are common in almost every community, whether as taco trucks in Los Angeles, hot dog carts in New York City, fruit stands on rural roadsides, or ice cream trucks on neighborhood streets.
In underserved neighborhoods unlikely to attract a large grocery store, mobile vending is one way to increase access to healthy foods. Unlike supermarkets, mobile vending businesses can travel deep into areas where zoning laws may bar larger retail food establishments. Mobile vendors can also adjust their inventory quickly to fit the unique cultural demands of the community.
But a major problem for nutrition advocates is that often these vendors sell food that is unhealthy, even if it is affordable. The nutritional profile of the food is not a top priority for mobile vendors, who may be more focused on overcoming obstacles to operating their businesses.
This fact sheet shows how mobile vending regulations can promote healthy eating in communities that need it the most.
To learn more, be sure to check out our other resources:
- A comparison of Mobile Vending Laws in the 10 Most Populous U.S. Cities.
- Creating a Permit Program for Produce Cart Vendors, a fact sheet providing an overview of NPLAN's Model Produce Cart Ordinance and describes the many benefits of produce cart vending.
- California Certified Farmers’ Markets and Farm Stands: A Closer Look at State Law, a fact sheet explaining how state law works to encourage alternative retail outlets, such as farmers’ markets, farm stands, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, where farmers can sell their produce directly to consumers.