Mobile Food Vending Program

Authorized under Ordinance No. 1510 and Policy Resolution 2021-18

Questions? Email business.support@cityofeastlansing.com

The Mobile Food Vending Program (Program) offers both an annual license and a temporary special event permit to mobile food vendors seeking to operate within the City of East Lansing. This expanded and well-regulated Program is expected to help activate streetscapes, increase the vibrancy of neighborhoods and provide more economic opportunities for entrepreneurs while also protecting public health, safety and welfare. 

Common Terms and Definitions

  • Mobile Food Vending means vending, serving or offering for sale food and/or beverages from a mobile food vending unit. 
  • Mobile Food Vending Unit means any motorized or nonmotorized vehicle, trailer, stand, cart or other device designed to be portable and not permanently attached to the ground, from which food is prepared onsite and vended, served or offered for sale. 
  • Mobile Food Vendor means any individual engaged in the business of mobile food vending; if more than one individual is operating a motorized or nonmotorized vehicle, trailer, stand, cart or other device designed to be portable, then "vendor" shall mean all individuals operating such motorized or nonmotorized vehicle, trailer, stand, cart or other device designed to be portable. 
  • Operate means activities associated with the conduct of a mobile food vending business, including setup and take down and/or actual hours where the mobile food vending unit is open for business. 
  • Transient Food Merchant means any motorized or nonmotorized vehicle, trailer, stand, cart or other device designed to be portable and not permanently attached to the ground, from which prepackaged food is vended, served or offered for sale.

Mobile Food Vending Unit License

Mobile Food Vending Graphic

A mobile food vending unit license (License) is required for any motorized or nonmotorized vehicle, trailer, stand, cart, or other device designed to be portable and not permanently attached to the ground, from which food is prepared onsite and vended, served or offered for sale and is not operating on temporary basis under a Special Event Food Vending Permit issued by the City of East Lansing. 

Mobile food vendors can apply for a License using the Mobile Food Vending Unit License Application (Application). A License authorizes mobile food vendors to operate during the operating hours and at the locations established in an approved Application. Licenses are renewed annually prior to expiration by scheduling and passing an annual safety inspection.

The first step in the Licensing process is to fill out the Safety Inspection Request Form. Only applicants that schedule and pass their safety inspection will complete the Mobile Food Vending Unit License Application.

License Application Documents
STEP 1: State License (PDF)
STEP 2: Safety Inspection Request Form (PDF)

Related Application Documents
Fire Safety Fact Sheet (PDF)
Ordinance No. 1510 (PDF)
Policy Resolution 2021-18 (PDF)

Special Event Food Vending Permit (temporary)

Mobile Food Vending Graphic 2

Current Opportunities

  • Sandbox Films: Every Thursday at sunset, June 2-July 21
  • Greater Lansing Area Moms (GLAM) JAM - Summer Kickoff: Thursday, June 23 from 4-7 p.m.

Apply to be added to the list for future Neighborhood Association Block Parties or Special Events!

A Special Event Food Vending Permit is required for any motorized or nonmotorized vehicle, trailer, stand, cart or other device designed to be portable and not permanently attached to the ground, from which food is prepared onsite and vended, served or offered for sale and wishing to operate on a temporary basis and under a Special Event Food Vending Permit issued by the City of East Lansing. Special events include any City sponsored or City sanctioned event, activity or program as well as neighborhood association block parties issued a Block Party Permit by the City of East Lansing. 

Mobile food vendors can apply for a temporary permit using the Special Event Food Vending Permit Application (Permit Application). A permit authorizes mobile food vendors to operate during the operating hours and special event location established in an approved Permit Application. Special events include Neighborhood Association Block Parties and City sponsored, sanction or facilitated event, program or activity. 

There is no fee associated with submitting a Special Event Food Vending Permit Application. However, authorization for certain events may require additional compliance or fees. 

Note: a mobile food vendor with a License is not required to obtain a Special Event Permit to operate at a special event. However, the mobile food vendor is required to obtain authorization from the City to operate at a special event. 

Permit Application Documents

Related Permit Application Documents