Did you know that regions boasting robust food truck cultures like New York City and Southern California only recently updated their laws to allow mobile food operations, and in many cases, the laws are still very restrictive? This is due in large part to the persistence of outdated, disproven myths about food trucks still being perpetuated by people unfamiliar with modern food truck culture. The most common of these unfounded charges tend to be:
- “food trucks are dirty”
- “food trucks steal business from brick-and-mortar restaurants”
- “food trucks don’t pay taxes.”
The first two of these claims have been proven by the Institute of Justice ( a Washington, DC-based economic and civil liberties advocacy organization) to be the exact opposite of the situation on the ground and in the street. As for the third myth, it’s important to know this: food trucks pay taxes, just like any other business, and, in fact, pay more regulatory fees than brick-and-mortar restaurants because mobile food operations must be licensed and health-inspected in EVERY area they serve. Read more about the myths and realities of modern food trucking here.
1) Food trucks are likely to be cleaner than brick-and-mortar restaurants because food trucks have to be inspected in every town and city where they serve. Read the research here.
2) Food trucks actually bring more business to local restaurants than they divert. Several restaurants in areas where where food trucks have been introduced attest that their business has increased due to the fact that a greater diversity of food in general brings more foot traffic to dining and shopping districts and, thus, to brick-and-mortar restaurants. People with any experience in the food industry know this to be true, hence the existence of everything from urban dining districts to suburban food courts. Learn more here.
In the Greater Lehigh Valley, many municipalities do allow food trucks and other regulated street food, but impose logistical and financial barriers that put mobile food operators at unfair disadvantages. Our major urban cores (Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton), not yet fully in-step with the dynamism and growing popularity of foodie culture and the food truck movement, make regular downtown food trucking on the scale we see in other regions (look only to Philadelphia) next to impossible. Not only is this unfortunate and at cross-purposes with the record-breaking capital investments currently happening in our cities, but it’s also unconstitutional. Local governments cannot favor one type of restaurant business over another. Ordinances that prohibit fully licensed rolling restaurants while promoting brick-and-mortar ones fall into the realm of anti-competition protectionism, making municipal approaches to mobile food an issue of civil and economic liberty. For these reasons, protectionist laws across the country have been overturned immediately when challenged.
In the Lehigh Valley, we need your support. Mobile food operators and their patrons must work together to change local ordinances and rid our municipal codes of unfair, unconstitutional protectionism. Food truckers and other mobile operators in our region are creative entrepreneurs who deserve fair treatment and equal protection under the law as we work to bring a greater diversity of great food to market. As outlined above, we pay taxes, are highly regulated, drive commerce that helps local brick-and-mortar businesses, especially restaurants, and are on the cutting edge of consumer desires among rising generations with disposable income in our urban centers. We are training the next generation of creative food professionals, we are hard-working small business owners, job creators, and civic leaders. And we need your help.
We ask that you help us raise awareness of the unique challenges facing food truckers and other mobile food operators, and the unique benefits our businesses bring to consumers and to the community.
1) Sign our petition
2) Send emails to your local leaders in municipal government to make them aware that you want the benefits of food truck culture in your community.
Competition is good for business, so don’t let your local government decide what food you should eat – YOU DECIDE!