Food Trucks Provide Warm Meals for Truck Drivers at California Rest Stops

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
food trucks rest stops
Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: Executive Order N-52-20

Overview: California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on April 16 that allows commercially licensed food trucks to operate at roadside rest stops for 60 days. 

Location: California

Population: 39.9 million

Food policy category: Food access; food services

Program goals: To provide food access to truck drivers, and to give food truck operators a source of income.

How it works: Food truck vendors may submit an application to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) specifying at which rest area they would like to operate in order to receive a temporary permit to serve meals to go. Permits will be valid through June 15, 2020.  

Food trucks must be commercially licensed locally and can operate only within the area where they are licensed. Social distancing guidelines must be followed, and the rest areas must be kept clean while the food truck operators cook and serve meals.

Truck drivers can find a list of rest areas and the food served at them on the Caltrans website.

Progress to date: As of April 24, there were five food trucks permitted to operate at eight rest areas, according to the Caltrans website

Why it is important: California’s March 19 stay at home order forced food trucks temporarily out of business, as social gatherings where they would normally operate halted. Furthermore, State law prohibits commercial food sales at rest areas. 

Truck drivers are considered essential workers who must continue performing their jobs while most people are told to stay home as much as possible. They carry goods throughout the country to bring packages to residents who are making more online purchases to avoid going out in public, provide food to grocery stores and restaurants, supply medical equipment to doctors and hospitals, and complete other necessary deliveries. While many restaurants stopped operating altogether, and commercial food services were prohibited at California rest stops, truck drivers were rather limited in what they could find to eat while on the road. This executive order gives them the opportunity to eat a warm meal on the go while also providing business to food truck operators who would otherwise potentially be unemployed. 

Program/Policy initiated: The order was initiated on April 16, 2020. 

Point of contact: 
Office of Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

Similar practices: On April 3, the Federal Highway Administration issued a notice to state departments of transportation allowing food trucks to operate at federally funded interstate highway rest areas (as opposed to state funded rest areas) in order to feed truck drivers. 

Evaluation: The order has not yet been evaluated. 

Learn more:


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