My Streets My Eats

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Working to legalize food carts in Chicago: the Street Vendors Justice Coalition

The mission of the Street Vendors Justice Coalition is to create jobs, empower individuals, connect communities, and welcome fresh flavors into Chicago.  The coalition will open Chicago’s sidewalks for food vendors by advocating for policy changes, organizing grassroots support, and connecting vendors to resources.

Read more and join the campaign:





Read more about the IJ Clinic's past work on mobile food reform:



My Streets My Eats is a grassroots campaign to spread the word about the legal restrictions Chicago places on mobile chefs and to advocate for reform.  My Streets My Eats aims to mobilize Chicagoans to urge City Council to say yes to mobile chefs by repealing restrictions.  Chicago should let entrepreneurs figure out what customers want and serve it up fresh and hot!

On July 25, City Council passed a new law that will allow food preparation and cooking on food trucks.  Unfortunately, this law still places unfair and anti-competitive restrictions on mobile food businesses:

  • Ban within 200 feet of restaurants, except a few spots selected by the City
  • $1000-2000 fines for parking too close to restaurants or longer than 2 hours
  • GPS surveillance
  • No service between 2:00am and 5:00am

The strict 200-foot rule and harsh parking penalties have nothing to do with protecting the public. Check out our map of the Loop, which shows how crippling the law would be.  The city is giving special benefits to restaurants and treating food truck entrepreneurs like second-class citizens. Tell the City Council that they should treat all Chicagoans with business dreams equally, and allow Chicago’s creative chefs to start small and grow big!

Read IJ Clinic director Beth Kregor's compelling testimony from hearing on this law.

But that's not the end of the story.  The Institute for Justice and two Chicago-area food trucks—The Schnitzel King and Cupcakes for Courage—have joined forces to challenge Chicago’s food-truck ordinance.  This lawsuit, filed on November 14, 2012 in Cook County Circuit Court, argues that the 200-foot rule and the GPS tracking requirement violate the Illinois Constitution.  For more information on this lawsuit, visit


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 Click to view the full sized map of the Loop.


What can you do?

  1. Tweet at your local politicians that you support economic liberty for food-truck entrepreneurs. Here are some suggested tweets!
  2. Help Chicago free the food trucks by emailing Food-Truck Freedom: How to Build Better Food Truck Laws in Your City and Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks to your city mayor and councilmembers.
  3. Visit a local food truck and post a picture of the deliciousness using #freethefoodtrucks on Instagram.
  4. Promote this campaign on your Facebook or Twitter.

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My Streets My Eats Mobile Food Symposium and Meet Up

On April 14, 2012, the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship hosted “My Streets My Eats: Chicago Mobile Food Symposium and Meet Up” at the University of Chicago Law School.  Over 150 entrepreneurs, scholars, government officials, and activists gathered to discuss the importance of street food in urban cultures and economies, the need to reform vending laws in Chicago, and develop a model for city governments that would allow street vending to flourish.  Following the symposium, hundreds more community members joined symposium attendees for a food truck meet up featuring 19 of Chicago's mouth-watering trucks. (Read more)




Press Release: Attention Foodies: Chicago Legal Clinic Launches “My Streets!  My Eats!” Campaign, Joins National Street Vending Initiative (August 17, 2011)

My Streets, My Eats Mobile Food Symposium (April 14, 2012)

Chicago Food Truck Day (July 12, 2012)

Open Letter to the Alderman



Asociación de Vendedores Ambulantes

Audio: My Streets, My Eats Mobile Food Symposium podcasts

IJ's National Street Vending Initiative Photos: My Streets, My Eats Mobile Food Symposium
Legalize Street Food

Graphic: Chicago's 200-Foot Mobile Food Ban graphic

Mobile Cuisine Video: Asociación de Vendedores Ambulantes
Mobile Food News 
Report: Streets of Dreams: How Cities Can Create Economic Opportunity By Knocking Down Protectionist Barriers to Street Vending 

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