National Street Vending Initiative

The Institute for Justice's Fight to Legalize Street Vending

Through its National Street Vending Initiative, the Institute for Justice challenges anti-competitive laws that harm street vendors by unconstitutionally restricting their right to earn an honest living. The initiative helps vendors defeat such restrictions by bringing lawsuits in state and federal courts, equipping vendors to fight these restrictions through activism, and educating the public about the social and economic importance of street vending.

In 2015, IJ helped legalize food carts in Chicago and successfully challenged San Antonio’s protectionist laws against food trucks, ultimately leading to the city repealing its 300-foot ban on food trucks vending near brick-and-mortar restaurants. We also published Upwardly Mobile, a survey of licensed vendors in America’s 50 largest cities as well as an in-depth economic case study of New York City’s vending industry.

STREET VENDORS: Does your city have laws that seem designed to keep you from competing with other businesses? Do these laws make it difficult—or even impossible—for you to run your business? If so, we can help. Please e-mail us at

Here, you can check out the initiative’s interactive map about our ongoing and past work in cities across the country, learn the about the experiences of street vendors who are fighting protectionist laws, read our educational publications on street vending and follow newsworthy developments about street-vending laws in cities throughout the United States.


Vending Cities

Recent Cases

  • Baltimore Vending

    Joey Vanoni and Nikki McGowan are Baltimore-area mobile vending entrepreneurs. Joey is a Navy veteran and the owner of Pizza di Joey, a New York-style brick oven pizza food truck. The truck gives Joey the opportunity to not only serve delicious slices, but to also hire his fellow veterans. Nikki is the owner of Madame…

  • Chicago Food Trucks

    Chicago shouldn’t be in the business of protecting restaurants from food trucks.

See All


  • September 16, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    When it comes to bad vending laws in the United States, Sarasota County, Fla., takes the cake (and all the other good eats, too). In the world of mobile vending, some local governments enact “proximity bans” that forbid food trucks and carts from operating near brick-and-mortar restaurants. Lawmakers sometimes try to pass these off as…

  • January 28, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Love food trucks and street vendors? So do we. But unfortunately, some brick-and-mortar restaurants and establishments view the legislative process as a way to stifle street vendors in order to protect themselves from competition, by pushing for bans on food trucks and vendors within a certain distance from their businesses or prohibitions on food trucks’…

  • January 22, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    JUNE 2014 UPDATE: Food trucks are now allowed to vend in Bergen County parks. More than 12 trucks are rotating through the parks on a monthly basis, finally providing New Jersey with a taste from its talented food-truck chefs.    It’s tough to be a food-truck entrepreneur in New Jersey. Anti-competitive and burdensome laws make…


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