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Now, I can vend just on the weekends because I have loyal customers who keep coming back for my authentic soft tamales.
And they can expect real Mexican tamales for a long time, because I’m teaching my kids the tricks of the trade so one day they can inherit the business and experience the joy that comes with working hard and making great food for a great city.
But commuting for hours every day at jobs I didn’t love prevented me from seeing the very people I was doing it for: my family. I began selling tamales door-to-door six days a week, sometimes going to bed around 2AM and waking up at 4AM to continue preparing for the upcoming day.
It was hard, but becoming a small business owner let me pick my hours; so the minute that bell rang and my kids were out of school, I could be around them.
Instead, we get fined and are put on a wait list to get a permit.
And there’s a lottery to get on the wait list, and there are over 2,000 people on it—and people can wait over a decade to actually get a permit.
When I first left Mexico and came to America 20 years ago, I never imagined trying to create a good life for my family would be almost impossible—and punishable by law. My name is Guadalupe and I am a wife, mother, and mobile food vendor.
I’ve worked jobs ranging from housekeeper to attendant at a dry cleaners.
Being a mobile food vendor gives me the best of both worlds: I can provide for my family while being around them.
But a cap enacted in the 1980s limits the number of available food permits so vendors like me who want to earn an honest living simply can’t.