Chicago Outdoor Produce Stands Serving Underserved Areas Approved By City Council

Chicago's City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to legalize roadside, outdoor produce stands.

The Mayor Rahm Emanuel-introduced ordinance will allow for merchants to set up movable fruit and vegetable stands both on private property and in 30 designated spots throughout the city, according to the Chicago Tribune. Licensed vendors will be required to spend at least half of their time doing businesses in parts of the city that lack grocery stores -- or food deserts.

Emanuel lauded the council's approval of the ordinance as "a win for local job creation and a win for our families and children" in a statement [PDF].

"It's unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of people live without access to healthy, fresh food in our city, and fresh produce carts provide one important avenue for eliminating food deserts as well as creating jobs in our communities," the mayor continued.

The goal, the mayor said, is that all Chicagoans will have "the opportunity to be within a mile of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats," NBC Chicago reports.

Vendors can apply for a license to set up a produce stand on private property through the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

While food deserts have been on the decline in recent years in Chicago, the city's food desert population was estimated last year at 384,000 -- almost a third of which are children. The problem persists largely on the city's South and West Sides, predominantly African-American neighborhoods.

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