Rahm would OK mobile food trucks restaurants oppose
By Fran Spielman City Hall Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org February 1, 2011 3:16PM
Updated: May 7, 2011 5:43AM
Despite strong opposition from the restaurant industry, mayoral challenger Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he wants to legalize mobile food trucks with cooking on the premises as part of a larger plan to combat “food deserts.”
“I know it’s a threat to the restaurants, but I actually lean towards allowing” rolling restaurants, Emanuel said.
Roughly 600,000 Chicagoans live in neighborhoods without grocery stores nearby. They are forced to travel long distances to access healthier foods or settle for higher-priced convenience stores that don’t offer fresh fruits and vegetables.
On Tuesday, Emanuel held a news conference at Growing Power Iron Street Farm, an abandoned warehouse-turned agricultural site in Bridgeport, to unveil his plan to attack that vexing problem.
If he’s elected mayor, Emanuel said he would summon executives of grocery and drug store chains to a meeting during his first two months in office to lay down the law.
If they want to open stores in any Chicago neighborhood, they had better be prepared to service all of them.
“Don’t come in without an answer to, what is going to be the first question out of my mouth: ‘What is your business plan throughout the city?’” Emanuel said.
“You better have an answer of what you’re gonna do to address, what is in the interest of the whole city — that people in every neighborhood have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
As for Wal-Mart’s plan for a $1 billion Chicago expansion, Emanuel said his approach would be “let’s get moving on the investment” now that the world’s largest retailer has agreed to pay its Chicago employees 50-cents more than Illinois’ minimum wage.
Emanuel also vowed to re-write Chicago zoning laws that prohibit produce grown on urban agricultural sites from being sold on-site. That mirrors an ordinance that Mayor Daley has already introduced.
And Emanuel said he would leverage federal tax credits made available under first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to bring more healthy and affordable food choices to inner-city neighborhoods.