100 More Rest Areas Opened to Food Trucks Across Multiple States
Columbus, OH – More states are beginning to permit food trucks at rest areas in an effort to ensure truckers have readily available access to a hot meal.
A recent non-enforcement directive issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has paved the way for food trucks to be permitted by individual states to set up shop at rest areas.
In the last week, multiple states have announced it is moving forward with issuing permits to food truck operators.
In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine issued an order to allow the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to begin permitting food trucks at its 86 rest areas throughout the state.
“Truck drivers are the lifeblood of the economy and their jobs have never been more critical than now,” said Governor DeWine. “I’ve heard from many in the trucking industry that finding a place to eat while they’re on the road has been tough, but we’re here to help.”
According to ODOT, food trucks servicing rest areas are not permitted to sell packaged snacks or drinks in order to support the existing on-premise vending operations.
ODOT notes that such vending is operated by a blind or visually impaired small business owner as part of the Ohio Business Enterprise Program.
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) also began permitting food trucks to serve at rest areas.
INDOT says it is currently accepting applications from food truck operators.
The Agency plans to issue two permits for food trucks to operate between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., each day on a first-come, first-served basis at 24 rest area locations.
Click HERE to view these locations.
An INDOT spokesperson told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) last Wednesday that, so far, the Department had received fewer than 10 applications from food truck operators.
However, the spokesperson provided an update today and indicated 8 food trucks are being deployed to rest areas on Monday.
Late last week, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) announced that food trucks will be permitted to set up in several rest areas along Connecticut highways after Governor Ned Lamont issued an executive order to allow such activity.
“These truck drivers are keeping Connecticut moving and are providing critical necessities to and through our state during this national crisis. We need to make it as easy as possible to keep them fed around the clock,” said CTDOT Commissioner Joseph J. Giulietti.
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CTDOT says it will will open four out of its seven rest area locations for food truck operations, which includes the rest area on I-84 in Danbury, on I-91 in Middletown and Wallingford, and on I-95 in North Stonington.
Other states such as Arkansas and Florida are also permitting food trucks at selected rest areas as well.
A coalition led by the National Association of Truckstop Operators (NATSO) is urging the FHWA to commit to put the brakes on its newly issued non-enforcement notice once the national emergency is over.
Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, NATSO’s vice president of public affairs, told TNN that permitting food trucks at rest areas is not only harmful to off-highway businesses, but it is not needed given that truck stops remain open and are continuing to serve food through to-go and drive thru options.
“I have not heard of a single truck stop that has shut down during the pandemic,” she said. “Truck stops are open and our number one concern remains ensuring that America’s truck drivers have places where they can eat and rest. We believe that the best way to ensure that is to help truck stops navigate, survive and stay open during this pandemic.”
The Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association excoriated NATSO for its position on the issue.
Click HERE to read more about the brewing battle over food trucks.