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The City of Madison is excited to announce the launch of the Carts in Parks Vending Pilot Program this summer into fall! This program will provide daily food cart vending in 20 parks around Madison, support community-driven micro vending markets, reduce the barriers to vending in city parks, provided greater food access, and enhance our community gathering spaces.

The City of Madison has been awarded, a $50,000 Street for Pandemic Response and Recovery grant through the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies (, as part of their commitment to providing short-term funding and technical assistance to cities to help them adapt streets in service of communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Madison is one of 10 cities across North America to be selected to participate in this second round of grants from NACTO and Bloomberg Philanthropies. To see a list of other cities in this grant cohort visit NACTOs Website.

“I’m excited about our Carts in Parks program! It’s a great opportunity for families to enjoy the summer, their neighborhoods, and their parks while supporting local food entrepreneurs,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, “I want to thank NATCO for the grant, and everyone on City staff and in the community that is working to make this a success.”

The grant program is a continuation of NACTO’s Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery initiative which documented the quick-build design strategies–from the bike and bus lanes, to slow streets, and outdoor dining–implemented by cities around the world.

“Strong communities create strong streets,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO Chair and Principal with Bloomberg Associates. “Bringing local voices and creativity to local projects helps build trust as put more accessible, resilient and equitable streets on the map.”

Carts in Parks pilot program has multiple paths. The first will provided park vending fee waivers for daily food vending in parks. The city is currently reaching out to city-licensed food cart/truck vendors to help finalize the program details and park locations. The parks locations and carts assigned will be announced soon. The daily vending program is currently planned to kick off on July 25th.

For daily food cart/truck vendors a Guaranteed Sales Program will support vendors to ensure that they will not lose money when vending. This is the number one reason a food cart/truck vendor does not return to a location. If they are not making sales, the location or event is not going to be sustainable for their business to continue in that space. This program is designed to help bridge that gap between establishing a new location and when people become regulars. If a vendor does not reach the established breakeven sales goal, they will be able to submit their sales data and be reimbursed up to that amount. This will be vendor-driven and participation is not required even if a vendor has been assigned a location in parks.

Alongside the daily vending, the city is currently working with the Latino Chamber of Commerce and the UJAMMA Business Network to support community market opportunities in parks for new, emerging, and established entrepreneurs as they work to connect with their customers and engage new markets using our beautiful city parks as the community-based locations for their events. These markets will begin at the end of July and run through early fall in four parks around the City. The full list of event dates and parks locations will be announced soon.

Carts in Parks is taking a #TeamCity collaborative interdepartmental approach to designing and implementing this program. This team includes staff from the Parks Division, Economic Development Division, Traffic Engineering Bicycle Pedestrian Program, Planning among others. Working closely with community partners, City staff, and the community, this pilot program will continue to respond to the requests of community organizers to support grassroots programming. See Carts in Parks for the schedule and vendor information.

For information on the program and how to get involved contact Meghan Blake-Horst,, or Kelli Lamberty, Park locations and event calendars will be posted on the City of Madison website and social media channels soon.