A Street Vendor Didn’t Have a Permit. Her Produce Was Tossed in the Trash.
On Sunday, Ms. Hernandez Cruz denied in a statement that she had left the stall unattended.
“I was very indignant the day that the Department of Sanitation threw out pallets of fruits and vegetables from my stand, it was very unfair,” she said in the statement, which was translated from Spanish. “I was here present.”
Under city law, attempts should be made to donate confiscated food to those who may need it, but only after a Health Department employee signs off in its safety. In the case of Ms. Hernandez Cruz, officials said, no such determination was made.
With people yelling at them for discarding the food, the sanitation workers stopped clearing the stand. When they left, Ms. Kaufman-Gutierrez of the Street Vendor Project said, Ms. Hernandez Cruz urged those who were nearby to take what remained.
Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, a Democrat who represents the area, said the move to throw the produce into a garbage truck was especially striking given where it happened. According to one 2020 report, one in five Bronx residents experiences “food insecurity,” or a lack of reliable access to an adequate amount of affordable, nutritious food.
“People are struggling every day with food insecurity,” Ms. Fernandez said, expressing outrage over the fresh produce being “literally thrown away.”
“This constant battle against street vendors must end,” she added.
In January, the City Council took a step toward bringing relief to at least some unlicensed vendors, approving legislation that called for issuing 400 new permits a year for 10 years.
Nonetheless, the authorities have cracked down in recent months on vendors who operate illegally. Enforcement had eased during the height of the pandemic, when many people turned to selling food on the street to make money after losing their jobs. Fines start at $1,000.