Food carts challenge annual review process

Madison’s food cart community came together before the Vending Oversight Committee to express dissatisfaction with the food cart review system and offer suggestions for a new process.

“I think if anyone looks at the judging, it’s easy to see some really systematic problems in how the scoring works,” Jonny Hunter, co-founder of Underground Food Collective, told the committee.

Food cart owners stressed the seriousness of the consequences of the rankings, with many of them saying livelihoods were at stake.

“This is a very serious subject,” said Joshua Barraza, co-proprietor of El Grito Taqueria food cart. “This is our life. This is all I do. This is it … This is all I have. So I’m going to fight for this as hard as I can.”

The city’s annual review determines which carts get the 40 coveted food vending spaces on the Library Mall and around the State Capitol. The rankings are completed by the Economic Development Division of the city of Madison and organized by street vending coordinator Warren Hansen.