Alison Garwood Jones

Food trucks could help us in a pandemic

July 3, 2020

Quarantine pods of people sitting in a park, being fed by food trucks.
Cities should make it easier for food trucks to serve the public in parks during a pandemic

And just like that restaurants evaporated. 

But the need to gather, gossip and drink never left us.

We are water. Obstruct our flow and we’ll find other outlets.

During Covid, the park next to my house has been relatively active during the day, but at night it comes alive: dozens upon dozens of quarantine pods bobbing on checkered rafts across the grass, all sharing food, drinks, gripes, and observations. 

My partner has taken to calling it, “Pub in the Park.” Like a floor manager, he did a headcount and the covers exceeded 100.

This week, as cities across North America test the reopening of restaurants (based more on hope than science), over half the public say they plan to stay away until a vaccine is found. 

Restaurants can’t survive on 50% capacity, not even 80%. 

That sent my brain into “What If” mode: 

Applying the old marketing axiom, “Fish where the fish are,” WHAT IF municipal governments made it easier and more affordable to operate food trucks so restaurants could take their concepts to park gatherings? Pre-pandemic, miles of red tape and exorbitant permit fees made food trucking a losing proposition for almost all small to medium-sized restaurants. WHAT IF city councils waived the permit fees for restaurants trying to generate rent for their brick and mortar locations? After all, build it and they will come — or, open it and they will come — is a pipe dream right now. 

I’m told, food trucks are expensive and take a long time to manufacture. Installation is quite complicated. If we could step up the production of tanks during WWII, why not food trucks during an equally serious and transformative moment like this? New circumstances call for fresh thinking. Humans need to eat, but we also need to socialize safely. Body, mind and soul must be fed during a deadly crisis. 

On a parallel note, I have a few friends, who skew more towards the hippy end of the spectrum, who are selling/ subletting their city apartments and living in RV’s for the foreseeable future. It all ties back to this theme of taking to the road, living safely at a distance, and rejecting the pressure of rent and mortgages. 

I invite the experts to pick apart this idea.


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