Food trucks allowed at California highway rest stops

OUSD's newly restored food truck will serve Esperanza Elementary on April 2, 2020. (OUSD)

Caltrans is allowing the temporary operation of food trucks in 86 state rest areas that will provide food for highway truck drivers and motorists and revenue for food truck operators during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

"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," said Shawn Yadon, chief executive officer for the California Trucking Association. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Thursday and the Federal Highway Administration approved a rule change in favor of the plan earlier this month.

Newsom's Executive Order N-52-20 suspends restrictions on selling commercial food at the rest stops during the current health emergency.

Food truck operators can apply for a temporary encroachment easement permit to operate at one or more of the state's rest areas.

Caltrans will begin accepting applications from the food truckers immediately. Applicants can submit requests for specific rest areas here

Operators must specify the rest areas for which they are applying.

The permits will be valid through June 15.

Food trucks are licensed locally, and each truck can only operate within the locality for which it is licensed and permitted by the local health inspector.

Many rest areas have been established in remote areas with fewer available roadside services, and Caltrans said it cannot guarantee every rest area will have food truck service or for how long.

Caltrans will post a list of participating food trucks on its website and details on each rest area are available here. People can click on Options and then the Rest Area box.

"Helping our truckers and facilitating the movement of essential goods during the COVID-19 crisis is a priority," Caltrans director Toks Omishakin said. "We also hope this provides additional business opportunities for food trucks hit hard by stay-at-home health orders."