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New program aims to help vending businesses jump back from COVID

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The City of Madison had a ribbon cutting ceremony to launch a new program for food vendors today at Penn Park.

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Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway, the Latino Chamber of Commerce Community Markets and the Madison community came together to celebrate the new program.

'Carts in Parks' will feature a variety of food trucks at 20 Madison parks. Each day of the week, trucks will pop-up for lunch, dinner and even snack time.

Street Vending Coordinator, Meghan Blake-Horst told 27 News, "Vendors were really hit hard during COVID; all of the special events that they normally make a good chunk of their living off of went away. We had a whole year where they had no place to be."

Blake-Horst describes this inagural program as a 'recovery' program meant to build the economy and community back up.

"This is another way to directly support our micro-businesses, and especially micro-businesses that are owned by women, people of color, and others that have traditionally had challenges entering the vending marketplace," stated Blake-Horst. "This is a great opportunity to get their name out and to connect with our community."

One of the newest vending businesses is Churros Blossom. This couple-owned business creates fresh churros filled with caramel or chocolate, a special recipe from Mexico.

"I think that's one of the nicest thing having a food truck is that you can move it from one place to another place, meet new people, and we are excited," explained co-owner of Churros Blossom, David Padilla.

Padilla is grateful for the $50,000 grant from National Association of City Transporation Officials which is trying to help communities that were disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.

"This is a good opportunity that they are doing for small businesses like like ours. We're new... and it is good to help people, bring the economy up," explained Padilla.

As of now, 16 food carts have signed up for this test program, however Blake-Horst believes many more will join.

"I'm grateful to the city for the parks division for helping us and giving us the permission to move forward with this program. It's really exciting and I look forward to seeing how it goes all summer," stated Blake-Horst.

Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway, the Latino Chamber of Commerce Community Markets and the Madison community came together to celebrate the new program.

Carts in Parks will continue until Sept. 9

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Jada Hoffman

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