POP UP FOOD FOR THOUGHT
by Two Way Street Editorial Team
Unlike arts & crafts, clothing, and first amendment vendors, mobile food vendors have extra steps that they have to take before bringing their products to the market in order to ensure they are complying with local regulations. This is often the case in other municipalities, some of which are actively trying to change their regulations in order to support micro-enterprises bringing specialty foods to the market. Some municipalities are also trying to incentivize mobile food vendors’ sale of healthier foods by waiving fees and relaxing procurement requirements.
As a part of the One Albuquerque Engage initiative, Two Way Street is working with various City departments such as Environmental Health to identify the challenges and opportunities for following some of these other municipalities’ lead in changing the way we bring high-quality and affordable food to the market.
Common Locations for Food Vending
- Public parks
- Community centers
- Sidewalks in commercial districts
New Potential Locations
- Outside of business storefronts
- Business-within-a-business (pop-up events)
- Business-within-a-business (short lease agreements)
Current Regulatory Environment
Temporary Mobile Permit
- Finding a Commissary
- Getting a NM CRS Number
- Registering the business
- Fire inspection of mobile food business
- Pre-Opening Inspection with Environmental Health Department
- Paying a Health Permit Fee
1. Business Registration: $35
2. Temporary Food Permit: $25
3. Grower’s Market Permit: $15
4. Season Grower’s Market Permit: $50
5. Paying a Health Permit Fee $120
One Albuquerque Engagement
On September 28, Two Way Street and One Albuquerque coordinated an event at the vacant space at 505 Central that included arts and crafts vendors, live musicians, food vendors, and first amendment vendors. Two Way Street will continue working with One Albuquerque to identify other opportunities for enabling Plant Powered Events and Vegan Outreach vendors to conduct business-within-a-business sales.
Interview with Victor Flores, Founder of Plant Powered Events
- What compelled you and your partner to create Plant Powered Events and what do you feel is the current demand for popup events and festivals in Albuquerque, especially those that offer a variety of local food options?
We felt there was a huge void regarding any type of vegan events happening in Albuquerque. And I’m not saying events exclusively for vegans, but vegan events that everyone can enjoy. Good food, entertainment and a variety of vendors. Regarding the demand for pop ups and festivals, I can only see it growing. Locally, many food establishments are already adding vegan options to keep up with the demand. A few are already 100% vegan or almost there. Anything plant based right now is hot and trendy, but leaving the trendiness aside, it just makes more sense on so many levels. For ethical, health, and environmental impact reasons, many are starting to realize vegan is the way to go.
- How does Plant Powered Events complement the mission and goals of Vegan Outreach?
Vegan Outreach is an international non-profit 501(c) organization working to end violence towards animals. We seek a future when sentient animals are no longer exploited as commodities. As a Community Events Coordinator, I also produce events and work in the community to educate and inform people about veganism. Plant Powered Events gives a platform to facilitate this by creating a pop up market, where not only Vegan Outreach can set up, but also where other businesses and organizations can share their products and information to the community at large. Many groups or organizations that are involved with veganism can sometimes fall into “preaching to the choir” when it comes to informing people. We want to normalize veganism and have events for everyone. Being out there in the community and sharing information, products, and resources to people who might not ever be exposed to it is where we want to be.
- How does Plant Powered Events support vendors participating in the Plant Powered Pop Up Market?
We really want vendors at the pop up market to thrive. The Plan Powered Pop Up Market is all about creating the space for them to showcase their products, to embody their organizations’ missions, and to share information for a broader demographic. The great part about our vendors is that they are extremely supportive in helping Plant Powered Pop Up grow. We plan to do a few marketing campaigns starting next month to really promote the pop up concept and movement throughout other parts of the city. Flyers and posters are being worked on. A billboard is also in the works with the support of the One Albuquerque initiative. We also want to invite businesses that are not necessarily vegan, but offer vegan options at their establishments. Sometimes businesses will add an option and we do not hear about it. You can’t sell a product if no one knows about it, so we hope the market will facilitate this for them. Arts and craft vendors are also invited. Regardless of what your business is, we only ask that no animal products are used or sold at the market.
- What are some common products sold by Plant Powered Events’ vendors?
- Vegan Biscochitos
- Vegan donuts
- Vegan Burgers
- Santuario de Karuna Gifts
- Vintage clothing
- Beauty products
- Soaps and Lotions
- Merchandise like t-shirts and stickers
- And various other items
- How are you already partnering with local organizations like Street Food Institute? How else would you like to partner with local organizations and entities?
Vegan Outreach’s recent collaboration with the Street Food Institute was a great success! We were able to use their food truck to sample our vegan burgers and vegan sausages to students and staff at the Central New Mexico Community College main campus. While giving out free food, we were also able to give out plenty of information through our literature ranging in content from vegan athletes, animals, nutrition, and climate impact. By partnering with well established organizations, it gives us the opportunity to reach the people outside of the vegan community. We hope to work with many more organizations and businesses in the near future.
- What are the challenges and opportunities with “piggy backing” off of different local events that are already established? What type of informational materials do you provide people at these events?
There really have not been many challenges regarding working with other local events, but there definitely have been great opportunities. Again, I stress we are more into reaching people outside the vegan community and by being at festivals that are not necessarily vegan, we can always achieve reaching this demographic. We usually give out free food samples and share resources that look at all aspects of why many are deciding to go vegan.
- What is the value of having competitions like the Vegan Taco Takeover?
Having cook off or food competitions has been done for some time now. We just do these events as any other event would take place. Yes, the food is vegan, but that is besides the point. As long as it is delicious, people don’t really care. These types of events are just another way of normalizing veganism. Fun event and great food, why not?
- What is the value of having a centralized location like 505 Central in convening your vendors and providing them with opportunities to pilot their products and/or bring tested products to the market?
Having a centralized location is important as is being consistent. Having a venue where people will know our market will take place, makes it easier and more accessible for various people to attend. This benefits our vendors and also the growth of our pop up market.
- How do you plan/hope to continue to partner with One Albuquerque and Two Way Street to promote our local food vendor community?
We hope to continue working with both One Albuquerque and Two Way Street to showcase the great plant based food options that are thriving in our city already and also give an opportunity to those that are wanting to start a business by trying out their concept at our market.
- What are the biggest barriers that emerging food vendors experience in registering their business, getting their permits, and bringing their products to the market?
I think the biggest barrier can be becoming an “official” food vendor due to the lack of knowledge on how to become compliant. Once they do learn how to get everything in order, the other issue is getting their product known and out to the community. How and where can they make their food? Accessible commercial kitchens would definitely benefit everyone trying to get off the ground.
- Does Plant Powered Events and/or Vegan Outreach have the capacity to support food vendors register their business, get permits, etc.?
Plant Powered Events would like to get more involved and have assistance from the city to get more food vendors educated on these initial business topics. More vegan businesses in town is a plus and if we can assist with that.
- Are there opportunities for locating more food vendors in food deserts? What are some strategies for equally distributing vendors around the city?
Haven’t looked into this.
- How can we incentivize food vendors to sell healthier foods? (ex. Los Angeles is proposing to waive certain fees for food cart vending if the owner is selling organic foods)
Waiving fees to get the ball rolling is always beneficial. Would love to see some of this being implemented in ABQ, especially if you are a vegan food vendor.
- How can food carts and trucks complement/enhance brick and mortar businesses focusing on retail and other types of commercial activities?
There can be benefits for both parties involved. For the brick and mortar, having other food vendors present can attract a different demographic that might not previously frequent the establishment, therefore creating more potential customers. For the vendors, they get exposure almost immediately with an already established customer base. It can be a win win if planned correctly.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of coordinating events that have different types of vendors (ex. Food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, non-profit vendors, etc.?)
I only see strengths in having a variety of vendors. The idea of having something for everyone is extremely appealing. Everyone can have something to do or see.
- How do you plan to support non-vegan food vendors?
For the Plant Powered Pop Up Market we do require all the products being sold are 100% vegan. That being said, it does not mean we do not allow businesses that are not completely vegan. We just ask that for our particular market, they promote only their vegan options. By inviting non vegan businesses to share their vegan options with the community, we hope it will attract their regular customers and have them tryout these options at our market.
- What are the ethical, health, and economic reasons to go vegan? What other reasons are there to go vegan?
We are all against animal cruelty for the most part, but many of us are disconnected on how cruelty is usually served on our plate. You have to ask yourself, should I be supporting industries that are doing such atrocities to innocent animals if they do not align with my own values? That is an ethical question and should be something we all should deeply think about. Eating healthier is a big motivator for many. Especially when our country is in such a health crisis. Hospitals are not full of protein deficient people, but full of people with heart disease, diabetes and various cancers with many issues stemming by what we put in our body. Animal products are a big culprit and avoiding them is always recommended. Beans and rice have always been cheap. There are of tons of ways to eat on a vegan diet and save money. Not only short term, but also in the long run when medical costs factor in regarding your health. A cheap meat burger (meat industries along with dairy and egg industries are heavily subsidized by the government) right now could cost you big in the long run. One of the other aspects of why many people choose to go vegan is the environmental impact of eating animals. It is a very inefficient way of eating. Doesn’t make much sense to use thousands of pounds of grain and thousands of gallons of water to only get a few pounds of meat to only feed a few when we can switch those resources and feed many more. The other big issue is the environmental waste created by these industries. With billions of animals being slaughtered each year, where do we think all the cow, pig, and chicken waste goes? Think about all the methane being released into the air by thousands and thousands of animals in concentrated feed lots. You can take shorter showers, recycle, and drive an electric car, but if you are eating animals, your efforts are in vain, as your environmental footprint is a lot bigger than you might think. In the end, many of us do not choose to eat meat because we like to eat parts of dead carcasses, but we eat it because it simply tastes good. If you could have similar textures and flavors with plant based food, why even bother eating animals that come with so many side effects?