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Food  Chain  Workers  Alliance  
1730  W.  Olympic  Blvd.  Suite  300,  Los  Angeles,  CA  90015  
213-­‐761-­‐8893*  www.foodchainworkers.org  *  info@foodchainworkers.org    
 

 
October  26,  2016  
 
Dear  Consumer  Affairs  Committee,  
 
On  behalf  of  the  Food  Chain  Workers  Alliance,  I  am  here  to  voice  our  strong  support  to  the  Street  Vendor  
Modernization  Act.  
 
The  Food  Chain  Workers  Alliance  is  a  national  coalition  of  worker-­based  organizations  whose  members  
plant,  harvest,  process,  pack,  transport,  prepare,  serve,  and  sell  food.    We  are  working  to  build  a  more  
sustainable  food  system  that  not  only  provides  for  healthy  food  but  also  ensures  that  the  people  who  are  
making  and  selling  our  food  –  including  the  street  vendors  of  New  York  City  –  are  treated  fairly.  
 
As  a  native  New  Yorker  I’ve  enjoyed  the  foods  from  vendors  my  entire  life.  From  a  hot  dog  to  a  fruit  juice,  
they’ve  always  been  there  when  I  needed  a  snack  or  quick  breakfast.  I  was  first  exposed  to  the  many  
difficulties  food  vendors  face  when  as  a  college  student.  I  interned  with  a  street  vendors  organization  in  
East  Harlem  that  provided  services,  helped  to  educate  vendors  on  rules  and  represented  them  in  court.  
Through  my  internship  I  saw  the  hardworking  vendors  the  majority  of  them  immigrant  women  trying  to  
raise  families  and  give  their  children  better  opportunities.  I  saw  them  trying  to  achieve  the  american  
dream.  They  were  also  a  great  value  to  that  community  providing  foods  that  reminded  folks  of  home  and  
exposing  people  to  new  tasty  foods.  
 
For  many  years,  vendors  have  not  been  treated  fairly.  The  low  cap  on  food  vending  permits  –  imposed  in  
the  1980’s  after  lobbying  from  big  corporations  –  has  created  a  system  based  on  exploitation  and  abuse.    
Exploitation  at  the  hands  of  permit  owners  who  charge  exorbitant  rates  to  rent  permits  that  they  
themselves  do  not  use.  Abuse  at  the  hands  of  police,  who  arrest  and  ticket  vendors  brave  enough  or  
desperate  enough  to  try  vending  without  permits,  just  to  support  themselves  and  their  families.  
 
We  know  from  our  experience  that,  unlike  most  celebrity  chefs  you  we  see  on  TV,  and  unlike  most  people  
who  write  books  on  food  policy,  the  majority  of  people  who  make  and  serve  our  food  are  women,  
immigrants,  and/or  people  of  color.  This  is  absolutely  the  case  for  the  street  vendors  in  our  city.  They  
work  long  hours  for  little  pay.  They  often  do  not  have  time  to  go  to  their  Community  Board  meetings.  They  
often  may  not  know  who  their  Council  Members  are.  And  yet  the  decisions  made  in  rooms  like  this  
dramatically  affect  their  lives.  
This  administration,  and  this  City  Council,  have  pledged  to  the  address  the  inequality  that  exists  in  New  
York  City.  Doing  so,  creating  a  more  just  city  and  a  more  just  food  system,  can  be  controversial.  Many  
people  in  power  –  restaurant  owners,  real  estate  companies,  business  associations  –  will  object.    I  ask  
you  to  consider  just  as  strongly  the  thousands  of  workers,  selling  food  right  now  on  the  streets  in  
communities  across  this  city,  whose  lives  will  change  forever  if  they  receive  a  permit.      
 
Thank  you  for  the  opportunity  to  testify  today.  
 
Sincerely,  
 

Diana  Robinson  
Campaign  and  Education  Coordinator
Members: Alliance for Fair Food * Brandworkers International * Brooklyn Food Coalition * California Institute for Rural Studies
Coalition of Immokalee Workers * Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas * Community to Community Development
Familias Unidas Por La Justicia * Farmworker Association of Florida * International Labor Rights Forum * Laundry Workers Center * Migrant
Justice * Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center * OUR Walmart * Pioneer Valley Workers Center
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United * Rural Community Workers Alliance * Rural & Migrant Ministry
Street Vendors Project * Teamsters Joint Council No. 7 * UE Research and Education Fund: Warehouse Workers for Justice
UNITE HERE Food Services Division * United Food & Commercial Workers Local 770 * Workers Center of Central New York
Warehouse Worker Resource Center * Workers Justice Center of New York * Young Workers United

   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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