PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It is no secret the Rose City loves its food carts. As far as Portland staples go, there are few as prolific – or popular – as the city’s food cart scene.
Now, locals will have an entire month to support the savvy restaurants on wheels, as Mayor Ted Wheeler proclaimed the month of April “Food Cart Month,” an annual recurring event in Portland devoted to celebrating the city’s diverse cart-based cuisine.
According to the proclamation, the more than 1,100 food carts in Portland have created roughly 3,000 jobs in the city, in addition to providing “accessible opportunities for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses, with many food cart owners eventually establishing brick-and-mortar restaurants.”
As April 2022 marks the first year of the new tradition, Mayor Wheeler invited the community to take part by visiting the numerous local food carts, which in turn help boost the local economy.
“Portland’s vibrant food cart culture is an essential part of our economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic,” the Mayor stated. “Food Cart Month is a great opportunity to continue to support locally owned small businesses and Portland’s BIPOC community.”
Keith Jones, Executive Director of the Friends of Green Loop, and visionary behind the development of the Cart Blocks proposed the proclamation to Mayor Wheeler and presented it before City Council Wednesday.
Jones told KOIN 6 News, considering how much Portlanders love and cherish the local food carts, he was surprised the city had not already designated a month to celebrate them.
“I was really surprised that this didn’t already exist,” Jones said. “This is important for all food carts, and the pods really need the support right now.”
According to Jones, the lack of office workers downtown amid COVID-19 presented a major hardship for the city’s carts, which have come to rely on their business.
However, Jones told KOIN 6 News he is hopeful the new proclamation may boost traffic for the carts, which are still recovering from setbacks caused by the pandemic and the slow winter season, stating “For some it’s been a starving situation, but I do think we’re seeing some light at the end of tunnel for sure.”
Since the start of Spring, Jones said the Cart Blocks, located at 770 W. Burnside has already begun to see an increase in customers with the warming weather.
He said the seasonal change is another reason he felt April would be an optimal month to celebrate the outdoor food venues.
“What a great time of the year to get out,” Jones said. “It’s spring and everyone has been cooped up for the winter, so it’s a great opportunity to get out and try your favorite food cart –or a new one.”
According to Jones, Food Cart Month will present a unique opportunity to combat the many challenges currently facing Portland’s food carts, while simultaneously encouraging the community to sample the rich diversity of food and flavors presented by them.
“Food carts are an incredible resource that Portland has an abundance of and lend so much to our local culture and prosperity,” Jones stated. “April is the time when they are coming out of the off-season, and I thought making it a month to celebrate and visit our local food carts would be a great way of giving them a financial boost to start the season off right.”
Those looking to support the city’s food carts this month can view a list local options by visiting Travel Portland’s Food Cart Finder.