ODOT to temporarily allow mobile food vendors at rest areas.
I would like to begin by thanking
our industry partners for ensuring the safe and efficient movement of essential goods around our state during these difficult times. Every one of you is playing a vital role in getting Ohio through this crisis.
As Governor DeWine reminds all Ohioans every day –
we’re all in this together
. In that spirit, I write you today to encourage us all to work together as we get through this unprecedented pandemic.
Recently, the Federal Highway Administration temporarily removed certain restrictions on vending at rest areas on highways. In order to help ensure that truck drivers have their needs met, beginning on April 10, 2020, the Ohio Department of Transportation will allow mobile food vendors to acquire a temporary permit to operate at Ohio’s rest areas. We do not foresee the need for this temporary permit to go beyond our current emergency situation. Mobile food vendors must download the permit from the ODOT website and display it at all times while operating. They must also abide by state and local food service regulations as well as CDC social distancing guidelines to ensure the safety and health of staff and customers. The Ohio State Highway Patrol will regularly monitor rest areas to enforce compliance with all Ohio laws and regulations by the mobile food vendors who elect to set up operation.
Let me remind you that current vending at Ohio’s rest areas is provided by sightless and visually impaired merchants. They rely on the sale of beverages and snacks for their income. In order to ensure they are not directly competing with these vendors, mobile food trucks will not be permitted to sell prepackaged snacks or any drinks other than coffee.
It is important to note that this temporary permission for food truck vendors to set up in ODOT-administered rest areas is intended to help provide options for our truckers, not to replace the goods and services offered by our retail operations along Ohio’s interstates. So, in the spirit of all Ohioans being “in this together,” I would strongly encourage your members – go into a rest area facility and buy a drink and some snacks. When you go to re-fuel, get your essentials for the road at the convenience store. If your own or manage a re-fueling business which includes a fast food restaurant with a drive-thru, please try to accommodate our truckers looking for a hot meal.
It is our sincere hope and expectation that this crisis will be temporary, and thus, these measures will also be temporary. As former Governor Taft said many years ago, if you give Ohioans a problem - we’ll find a solution. We are a generous people, and we are all in this together.
Again, thank you for all that you do. If you have any concerns, please reach out to me or my staff.
Stay safe. Stay well.
Jack Marchbanks. M.B.A., Ph.D.