As a key component to national supply chains, truck drivers continue to drive through the pandemic. However, many of the services they rely on while en route closed down. Restaurants shuttered or refuse dine-in. As a truck driver, drive-thrus prove impossible. Stories of truckers getting turned away from drive-thru windows demonstrate the difficulty in finding hot meals on the road. To combat the issue of diminished dining options, federal officials removed restrictions barring food trucks from operating at highway rest stops.
On April 3, the Federal Highway Administration announced the temporary allowance for food trucks. It permits them to to park and sell food at rest areas along interstate highways. Any federally funded facility may now feature mobile businesses offering unique food choices. Truckers gain fresh options to partake in while making important hauls across the United States.
However, while truckers benefit, some believe the choice makes too broad an appeal, harming other businesses.
Opposition to Food Trucks Operating at Rest Areas
Truckers view the temporary change as a win. Though, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners sees things differently. They believe the allowance brings more harm than good.
They argue that granting permission to food trucks harms local businesses seeking dollars from truckers to weather the economic downturn. Struggling restaurants lose out on vital business when food trucks travel directly to the customer.
Lisa Mullings, the president and CEO of NATSO, released a statement expressing the organizations frustration. “Although some state rest areas have closed during the pandemic, private truckstops and travel plazas remain open and are committed to serving truck drivers,” it reads.
She goes on to explain NATSO doesn’t oppose permitting food trucks to operate at rest areas where local businesses closed. However, many remain open and available to hungry truckers. They would prefer the ordinary ban to remain in place in areas where local options exist.
Meanwhile, a number of individuals and organization appreciative of truckers continuing to work through the pandemic began offering free food. For example, the Oregon Trucking Association passed out 400 free meals last week to truckers.