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 2016, we launched a new case challenging Baltimore’s strict regulations on food trucks. We also released a new report that revealed how Chicago’s food truck red tape hinders economic opportunity and stifles consumer choice.

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 activism@ij.org.

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

  • South Padre Island Food Trucks

    Millions of visitors flock to South Padre Island every year to enjoy the sun and surf. The island is the most popular beach destination in Texas. With all of those mouths to feed one would expect that South Padre is a thriving destination for food-truck entrepreneurs. Not so. Unlike cities across Texas, the City of…

  • Fort Pierce Food Trucks

    Fort Pierce’s business owners keep inviting food truck owners Benny Diaz and Brian Peffer to set up on their properties. The business owners know that legions of fans follow Benny’s Taco Trap and Brian’s Creative Chef on Wheels food trucks everywhere they go. But Benny and Brian cannot accept any invitations to serve food because…

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  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    Food truck owners in Sarasota County, Fl., scored a victory in 2016 after they teamed up with IJ to fight to reform some of the very worst food-truck laws in the country, bringing tasty opportunity to streets throughout the county. These laws previously included a proximity restriction that prohibited food trucks from operating within 800…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    Washington, D.C., has one of the best food-truck scenes in the country. Indeed, the success of the local food truck industry—aided by D.C. bureaucrats’ uncharacteristic decision to avoid strangling it in red tape while it was in its infancy—gave hope to many that D.C. might actually be working to rehabilitate its (well-deserved) reputation as a…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    Until September 2015, it was illegal for pushcart vendors to sell any food other than whole produce or packaged frozen desserts in Chicago. The IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship teamed up with street vendors across the city to form the Street Vendors Justice Coalition, to fight for the vendors’ right to earn an honest living. After…


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