Food Trucks Still Face an Uncertain Business & Regulatory Environment

By Michael Klazema on 9/10/2020

Food trucks are far from a novelty—mobile food vendors operate everywhere from Alaska to Idaho. However, just a decade ago, they were primarily limited to big cities on the West Coast. An explosion in popularity and surging demand for unique food specialties created a vast new industry almost overnight. 

City streets suddenly filled with fly-by-night vendors operating with limited oversight. Since then, many municipalities have standardized the rules for granting permits to food truck owners and designating where they may operate. Public safety is the primary concern behind these regulations—protecting the public from not just food-borne illness but also potentially dangerous individuals. 

Across the nation, one of the most common regulations for food trucks is the requirement to submit to background checks. Using tools such as the US OneSEARCH by, these procedures reference a wide range of electronic resources hosting criminal history data. 

Locales set different standards for what is disqualifying—for example, some cities in Idaho disqualify vendors convicted of "crimes of moral turpitude." In addition to creating new regulations about where vendors could locate their trucks, the city of Stamford, Connecticut, waited until 2020 to require food vendor background checks.

Some city officials may soon find a renewed need to enforce background checks for food truck vendors and their employees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the loyal followings of many food trucks evaporated as crowds diminished. Some took up residence in the parking lots of grocery stores and hospitals, while others began to move into neighborhoods to offer groceries or a bite to eat closer to home.

With vendors in closer proximity to the community, background checks take on a greater importance. Not only is it essential for cities to vet the people they allow to do business in their neighborhoods, parks, and beaches, but vendors must vet their employees, too. Such regulations are less widespread, though some municipalities do require background checks for all individuals working inside a food truck. 

With access to the right tools, vetting vendors and employees is simple, providing the local community with the opportunity to develop a greater trust in the mobile restaurants serving food in their area. 

Although stay-at-home orders have since expired, a continued reduction in business could drive food truck vendors to set up outside of essential businesses. For companies that wish to partner with food trucks to serve staff, brushing up on local regulations is necessary. Conducting additional due diligence through vendor background checks, such as those offered by, can provide the peace of mind that a business needs to keep the convenience of a food truck close at hand without compromising safety. 

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