Illinois Policy

Chicago Food Carts

The driving force behind Chicago food cart legalization

The challenge

Chicago's ban on food carts restricted freedom to make an honest living and increased barriers to budding culinary entrepreneurs.

The solution

We created grassroots momentum by connecting key Chicago audiences with the street-vending community through real stories to dispel myths and show the economic benefit of lifting the city’s ban on food carts.

The result

On Sept. 24, 2015, the Chicago City Council voted “yes” on an ordinance to legalize food carts.

For years, food trucks were a major policy debate and public focus in Chicago, which left food-cart vendors in the shadows, struggling to earn a living. Much of this was because food-cart vendors are primarily low income, first-generation immigrants.

So we made a documentary-style video that went viral.

Una mujer y su carrito (“A woman and her cart”) chronicled the daily routine of 62-year-old Mexican immigrant Claudia Perez, who for years worked in the shadow of the law to make a living and support her family.


Areas of expertise

  • Community Engagement
  • Media Planning
  • Photojournalism
  • Research
  • Video Production


  • Davey
  • Marcom
  • NYX

Key Stats

7,000 Petition

1.1 Million+

(nearly 75% were organic)

50 Media

Through the platform, we helped generate 7,000 petition signatures.

75% of signatures came from democrats & independents.

Nearly 60% of all petition signatures came from Latinos.

With a vote scheduled in September, our media team generated nearly 50 earned media appearances in the month leading up to the vote. We secured placements with all the major Chicago television stations, as well as the top Spanish-language media outlets.

The Result: Problem Solved

Sept. 24, 2015, the Chicago City Council voted unanimously to lift the ban on food carts in Chicago. Food-cart vendors can now sell delicious food in neighborhoods across the city without fear of heavy fines and police harassment.

More Work

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