Following a recent Executive Order by California Governor Gavin Newsom and a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rule change, Caltrans is allowing temporary operation of food trucks in state rest areas during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This will help to provide access to food for highway truck drivers and motorists, and provide opportunities to food truck operators.
The goal is to increase the number of convenient food options available to truck drivers. Food truck operators can apply for a temporary encroachment easement permit to operate at one or more of the state’s 86 rest areas. Each food truck is responsible for all waste cleanup and removal, following all food-safety rules, and maintaining social distancing among employees and customers.
Operators need to specify the rest areas for which they are applying, and the permits will be valid through June 15. Because food trucks are licensed locally, each truck can only operate within the locality for which they are licensed and permitted by the local health inspector.
“Helping our truckers and facilitating the movement of essential goods during the COVID-19 crisis is a priority. We hope this gives truckers more food options to keep them and the economy moving,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “We also hope this provides additional business opportunities for food trucks hit hard by stay-at-home health orders.”
“We appreciate Governor Newsom and Caltrans for recognizing the vital role truck drivers play in keeping our communities safe and for working with trucking to ensure our industry has the tools necessary to respond to this crisis,” said Shawn Yadon, chief executive officer for the California Trucking Association. “Access to a warm meal is as essential as the truckers on our roads who continue to transport basic necessities, medical supplies and emergency equipment to communities across the state.”
Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order N-52-20 suspends restrictions of selling commercial food at the state’s rest areas during the COVID-19 crisis. The FHWA suspended related federal prohibitions earlier this month.
Caltrans will begin accepting applications immediately. Applicants can submit requests for specific rest areas at the website: dot.ca.gov/programs/traffic-operations/food-trucks-rest-areas.
The state rest area system was created to promote greater safety and convenience on state highways. For details on each rest area, visit QuickMap at quickmap.dot.ca.gov. In the left-most QuickMap window, click on Options and then click the Rest Area box.
Because many rest areas have been established in remote areas with fewer roadside services available, Caltrans cannot guarantee every rest area will be served by a food truck and at what frequency. Lists of participating food trucks will be posted on the Caltrans website.
If an applicant has any questions, they should contact their local district.