Background The Food Cart Pod on SW Alder and 10th was the oldest and largest food cart pod in Portland. Sometimes referred to as the “MotherPod,” this pod alone was home to over 40 food carts, employing anywhere between 200 - 300 people, many of whom are people of color and immigrants. On July 1st, the carts were removed to make room for a new development. Many of those carts did not have a place to go and were offered temporary storage at the Portland Post Office site courtesy of Prosper Portland.
The Situation During the economic downturn, food carts sprung up as a way for parking lot owners to bring in additional revenue and - at the same time – the model provided a low-barrier entry for entrepreneurs to become small business owners. The food carts became an incubator for Portland’s culinary scene and quickly became part of Portland’s culture and identity. People from all over the world visit this food cart pod every day and it continues to be highlighted in national and international media.
As our city grows, more and more of our downtown food carts will be displaced as open lots are developed. The Green Loop, a six-mile linear park scheduled to be built around Portland’s city center, offers a unique a new home for these food carts. The Culinary Corridor, which has been proposed for SW 9th Ave. between Director Park and O’Bryant Park and then down to SW Park to Ankeny Square, would be one segment of the city’s Green Loop, and would serve as a pilot for placing food carts in the right-of-way.-If successful - food carts could find a permanent place on the Green Loop.
However, this larger vision will take time and the Alder St. food carts needed to move by July 1st. A group of businesses, non-profits and the City of Portland have come together to create the first space of this corridor - around Ankeny Square.
How you can help Approximately $300,000 is needed to underwrite infrastructure around Ankeny Park, such as electricity, water and graywater disposal, as well as develop a long-term solution for food carts in Portland. Friends of Green Loop, an initiative to create a six-mile linear park throughout the city, is leading the private-public coalition to save the food carts, and - as such - is working to raise the funds necessary to do this. We need support from the community to help us establish a place for these small business owners, especially now, during their busiest season.
Why you should help Call it a universal truth, food carts are awesome. But, seriously, we also know that part of Portland’s DNA is the fact that small businesses are supported and celebrated here. Food carts are an important part of what makes our city a culinary wonderland of diverse offerings and this is an opportunity to show these small business owners that Portland is a place where they can continue to thrive and that we see them and support them.
This is a chance to use your voice to support thoughtful growth that makes way for development, which is happening at a rapid pace, while also maintaining space for small businesses like food carts, which we all know make Portland, well, so Portland.
What about the Food Carts? As they did previously, the food carts will be expected to pay their own expenses, including utilities and rent. Additionally, they are responsible for paying to use the parking spots they occupy around Ankeny Square. The new location requires each cart owner to cover additional expenses they did not have previously, such as security and maintenance.
Before the carts can even operate in this area, the electrical infrastructure needs to be built out at the new location, and the cost of setting up new hookups is too large a burden for the individual cart owners to manage on their own, which is why we’ve setup this GoFundMe.
What others are saying “In finding a new home for these food carts, we’ve seen a great deal of advocacy from our friends throughout Portland. Through this GoFundMe campaign, we hope those who have already served as such passionate champions for the relocation of the food carts will share monetary support to ensure the sustainability and viability of the food cart community.
It is incredibly important for the carts to stay together as a pod, preserving their important role in Portland culture. Our ultimate goal is to move the vendors to a new Culinary Corridor concept, and we view this transition as a pilot project, building a case for placing more food carts within the Green Loop in the future.”
-Keith Jones, co-director for Friends of the Green Loop
“Portland is recognized as a global culinary destination in large thanks to our more than 600 food carts. The Alder St. pod is frequented by locals and sought out by domestic and international visitors alike. We support this thoughtful transition that enables growth and development while also maintaining room for a pod that is core to the Portland culinary experience residents and visitors have come to know and love. We are committed to supporting this move by communicating the new location to visitors through our channels.”
- Megan Conway, senior vice president of communications and regional strategy for Travel Portland
“As Portland continues to grow, surface parking lots will continue to be redeveloped, and more food carts will be displaced like the Alder St. pod. Food carts have become a part of the DNA of Portland, not to mention our tourism industry and local economy. Many of the Alder St. carts are owned by immigrants and people of color, and as we continue to face an affordability crisis, we have to start addressing the displacement of small businesses as well as residents. I am pleased that we were able to come to this temporary solution, and I look forward to continuing to work with Friends of the Green Loop, PBOT, and these hard-working small business owners to sustain our vibrant and diverse food cart culture in Portland.”