Coronavirus: More than 200 food trucks apply to sell at rest stops during pandemic

The Ohio Department of Transportation has announced that as of 7 a.m. April 14, more than 200 food trucks statewide have signed up for permits to operate at ODOT-maintained rest stops.

ODOT opened up the option for food truck operators to set up at rest stops to serve truck drivers four days before, tweeting about the temporary permits on April 10.

>>Coronavirus: ODOT temporarily allows food trucks at rest stops

At the time, the agency said the change was intended to give truck drivers access to hot meals when many businesses are closing during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a release about the program, Governor Mike DeWine said, “Truck drivers are the lifeblood of the economy and their jobs have never been more critical than now. I’ve heard from many in the trucking industry that finding a place to eat while they’re on the road has been tough, but we’re here to help.”

Normally, federal regulations prohibit commercial activity at rest areas with a few limited exceptions, but the Federal Highway Administration said that it would temporarily suspend enforcement.

>>Area truck drivers maintain supply lines amid coronavirus pandemic

Mobile food vendors that do not yet have a permit and would like to operate at ODOT-maintained rest stops need to download permit from the ODOT website and display it at all times while operating. They also are required to follow state and local food service regulations, as well as social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vendors are also not allowed to sell prepackaged snacks or drinks other than coffee, since those are already on sale from vending machines, whose owners depend on those sales for their income. These temporary permits are meant to offer more options to truck drivers, ODOT said, not to replace the goods and services already offered.

ODOT also said that these permits don’t apply to the Ohio Turnpike, as the agency doesn’t operate it.

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