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Taking it to the street: Food vending during and after COVID-19

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Taking it to the street: Food vending during and after COVID-19

Photo caption: Yusuf Abdullah, one of the city’s horse-cart produce vendors known as arabbers, leads Tony and his cart through the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. Robert MacPherson / AFP via Getty ImagesArticle by Catherine Brinkley. The Conversation – February 17, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we eat.

Because outdoor dining poses less risk of infection, many cities have changed their laws to accommodate public demand.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio estimates that closing 87 streets and allowing outdoor dining saved nearly 100,000 jobs. Chicago has offered restaurants a US$5,000 grant to weatherize outdoor dining for the winter.

And San Mateo, California, is considering the once unthinkable: permanently removing some parking spots to allow year-round outdoor dining.

But what about mobile food vendors?

For the past 10 years, as a community and regional development professor, I have studied how street vending provides an economic lifeline for many people, particularly in low-income communities.

With increasing income inequality, growing unemployment and bans on indoor dining because of COVID-19, more people are turning to the street to make a living and to accommodate a rising need. […]

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