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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Red Hook: The Drama Continues


The Red Hook Ball Fields Update: some good, some bad.

Due to forces of nature (rains, floods, transit delays) Cesar Fuentes was on his own meeting with big guns from both the Department of Health and the Parks Department. Long story short, the Food Vendors of Red Hook Park have about 10 days to “be compliant” with the DOH's “major concerns.” By Sunday August 19th they must:
  • store more ice in coolers
  • acquire portable hand washers/sanitation units
  • wear sterile gloves and change said gloves regularly
  • have a source of running water to wash hands, tacos, etc.
  • rent commercial grade kitchens to prep food, or prepare everything on-site
Most significantly, The Powers That Be want everyone who works at a stand to be licensed. Anyone associated with a tent – from corn shuckers to pupusa stuffers – must undergo a training session to obtain a mobile food vending license. At present, only 12 tent operators are licensed; this number will (must) more than quadruple.

I can't honestly say this all makes sense. And as Carolina Salguero, Director of PortSide NewYork put it: “makes me wonder how RH ballfields food differs from all the Halal/hot dog street carts [which] have no plumbing. Something odd here...”

While the DOH has taken a strong enforcement policy the Parks Department was relatively supportive, even offering to send License Trainers ASAP (and waive the fee). Clearly, both branches are cognizant of media attention and want to tread somewhat lightly. Which is to say, the groundswell of popular and political support has, at the very least, forced City Officials to operate with a modicum of circumspection. The bottom line is nonetheless severe: the hammer could drop on the food vendors in 10 days.

The silver lining? It might not. And the more hurdles jumped now, the more the Red Hook Food Vendor affairs will be in order come permit renewal time. Facing obstacles in increments might actually help them in the long run, assuming said hurdles are overcome.

Until then, support goes to the folks on the frontline: Cesar Fuentes, and the Carcamo, Carrello, Ceron, Hernandez, Lainez, Martinez, Ochoa, Perez, Rojas, Soler, Sosa, and Vaquero families. Ditto for those working hard behind the scenes: Councilwoman Gonzalez, and the Schumer camp – particularly Director of Economic Development Sam Schaeffer – all of whom have been keeping very close tabs.

Show & prove, tacos for all, a luta continua.

–J. Slab

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping us posted on the latest. I found your blog (via Serious Eats, I think) after visiting Red Hook, and it was so interesting to read about the vendors whose food we had eaten. The City is a disgrace for trying to shut them down!

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Carolina Salgueros' comment, “makes me wonder how RH ballfields food differs from all the Halal/hot dog street carts.."

For starters, the hot dog carts dont sell raw seafood, nor do they have items that require constant refrigeration like meat, shellfish, and dairy.
Im all in favor of bringing the vendors back, but it needs to be done in full compliance with modern foodhandling practice.

4:03 PM  

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