GOOD Ideas for Cities: Building a Food Truck Movement

Food is a central part of New Orleans culture, yet many food trucks have stalled in bureaucracy. How to launch a movement to support these businesses?


The food truck phenomenon is sweeping the nation, bringing culinary diversity and urban engagement to hungry citizens—not to mention creating jobs. Yet in New Orleans, like many cities, food truck culture is running up against severe policy opposition, from antiquated health codes to parking restrictions to threats from brick-and-mortar restaurant owners. How to help these small businesses succeed? At GOOD Ideas for New Orleans, the team tasked with advancing food truck reform created a campaign to increase the visibility of these startups.

The team first gave themselves an education about both the intentions and challenges of food trucks. In their research, they were shocked to learn several facts about the industry, from the costs associated with permitting, to ridiculous laws like the one that doesn't allow a truck to park for more than 30 minutes at a time. Oh, and no selling seafood—in New Orleans! What the team realized is that sharing this information could not only make the process more transparent for potential new business owners, it might also mobilize supporters to campaign for change. They created to serve as a resource for eaters, vendors, and supporters, to help launch a movement to support food trucks as a viable and vibrant part of New Orleans life.

Challenge: Food trucks are an important source of economic opportunity for entrepreneurs of all types. They can also enhance the culinary culture of our city, enliven streets, and provide food options in underserved areas. However, the codes governing mobile vendors are outdated and overly restrictive, resulting in fewer jobs, less food service, and less tax revenue. The New Orleans Food Truck Coalition is working to educate leaders and stakeholders about food trucks and leading efforts to reform municipal ordinances. How can we help educate people about food trucks or otherwise advance reform?

Urban Leader: Rachel Billow, New Orleans Food Truck Coalition

Creative Team: Jennifer Nathan, Kelley Troia, Maggie Tishman, Mary Louise Killen, Sarah Azpeitia, Barrie Schwartz, Cambria Martinelli, Sarah Baird, Jake Minton, Jules R Goins, Justin Shiels, PJ Rosenberg, Skye Truax

Read more about the idea at Neighborland and check out NOLA Food Trucks on Facebook and Twitter.

Video by Andrew Larimer

GOOD Ideas for Cities pairs creative problem-solvers with real urban challenges proposed by civic leaders. To learn more visit Watch more videos of recent GOOD Ideas for Cities events, and if you'd like to talk about bringing the program to your city or school, email alissa[at]goodinc[dot]com or follow us at @IdeasforCities

via Michael Belanger / Flickr

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