Later this month, Madison will begin a new Carts in Parks pilot program. It’s an initiative to provide food carts with financial and operational assistance — and provide Madison’s park-goers with convenient food options.
The program will be funded by a $50,000 dollar pandemic response and recovery grant from the National Association of City Transportation Officials and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Meghan Blake-Horst — Madison’s Street Vending Coordinator — discussed some of the program’s highlights.
“Participating carts will be assigned to one or more parks to vend during the duration of the program to provide consistency for both the customer and the vendor, daily food vendors are eligible to participate in our guaranteed sales program, parks vending fees will be waived for participants,” says Blake-Horst.
The Guaranteed Sales Program aims to help food carts stay in new locations long enough to bring in regular customers. If a participating vendor doesn’t get enough business to break even, the city will help cover their operating costs.
Food carts are already allowed to operate at city parks with a permit, but the Carts in Parks pilot program aims to make the process easier and more consistent, while also waiving the carts’ $275 daily fees.
Participating food carts will be assigned to shifts on weekdays at around 20 parks throughout the city. In addition to the regular schedule, Carts in Parks will be involved with various local events.
The program will organize food carts for the UJAMAA business network’s community market at Reynold’s park on July 23rd, as well as the Latino Chamber of Commerce’s community events in Penn Park, every Sunday starting on July 25th through the end of August.
Blake-Horst says that the city is also working to arrange for carts at other events, but further plans are still in the works.
“Given that this is a pilot program, however, our hours, parks, locations, and dates are subject to change. We will be launching a website soon that will have the application, guidelines, calendars of events, as well as a list of our daily vendors and which parks you can find them at, and which hours you can find them there,” says Blake-Horst.
Blake-Horst says that the Carts in Parks website should be up next week.
The pilot program is scheduled to begin on Sunday July 25th, and continue through fall or winter, depending on the program’s success.
PHOTO: Seeger Gray / WORT News