The Carts can be seen all over the city, from busy street corners to the sidewalks beneath elevated subway tracks. Some are sponsored by the likes of Home Depot and other retailers, according to the beach umbrella that inevitably shelters vendors from the sun. However, the main impetus behind them is New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), which established the Green Cart program in 2008 in an effort to produce in some city neighborhoods.
Funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Green Cart Initiative provides micro-loans and technical assistance to Green Cart operators who must have a valid mobile food vending license and a permit for the cart. Operators also get help with branding, marketing and community outreach to attract customers. The initiative is part of a public-private effort to improve access to healthy foods through the creation of 1,000 new street vending permits.