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NYC Green Carts: Bringing Produce to Food Deserts

The NYC Green Cart program is a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene initiative that gives out permits to street cart vendors to sell produce, specifically in areas of the five boroughs where fresh food is not readily available.

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The Green Cart policy is a very simple policy solution to a widespread problem: domestic food deserts. NYC has begun to try to tackle the issue of food deserts by providing an incentive for selling fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved areas. Because other types of food cart permits are difficult to get, Green Cart permits are an attractive application option for those who would like to begin vending in NYC.

The city has also partnered with other organizations to direct more community members to purchase from Green Carts and ease the financial burden of starting up a food cart business. For example, the city has partnered with a local food business consulting group to hold trainings for new vendors, a Bronx medical center to refer patients to nearby Green Carts for fruit and veggie "prescriptions," and a local microfinance institution to provide start-up financing for the carts.


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Great suggestion, Jane. I'd love to see this too, and I think that the main barrier is cost. Currently they get their produce from Hunts Point, the largest food supply center in NYC (perhaps the nation?), and some form groups with other vendors so that they can collectively buy a large amount of food and get discounts. In order to bring local and organic farmers into the loop, the city (or another stakeholder) would probably have to provide some kind of subsidies or incentives to the vendors.

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