Watch CBS News

Photos Of City Sanitation Crews Throwing Away Fresh Produce Confiscated From Bronx Street Vendor Spark Outrage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's outrage in the Bronx over video showing fresh produce being tossed in the trash when city officials determined a local vendor didn't have a license.

In photos and video, city sanitation crews can be seen throwing fresh vegetables and fruit into a garbage truck after confiscating them from street vendor Diana Hernandez Cruz.

The 36-year-old mother of four told CBS2's Kiran Dhillon the experience has left her indignant and upset.

It happened Thursday at the corner of White Plains Road and Pelham Parkway in the Bronx.

Hernandez Cruz was at her stand when she was approached by the NYPD and representatives of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

When she failed to show a permit, she was told her food had to be thrown out.

Sunday, dozens of people gathered to show support for the vendor, many expressing their anger that the food was wasted in the Bronx.

"One out of five people go hungry every day, so this is really crazy for people, for community members to walk around and see," said Mohamed Attia, director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center. "Instead of helping the community, instead of helping the vendors create spaces and create opportunities for them to operate their businesses legally, they are throwing their fresh produce away."

The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection says Hernandez Cruz abandoned her stand before they could issue her a violation. She denies this.

The NYPD called the sanitation department and workers began to dispose of the food when unruly crowds interrupted the process.

A sanitation official told CBS2 that while the goal is always to donate confiscated food, the health department has to sign off on it as safe.

Both agencies admit the Department of Health should have been called but was not.

"This is just a waste of time and money and resources that our city is doing in times when we should be thinking communitivly about recovery, about creating thousands of jobs," Attia said.

Hernandez Cruz says she has tried several times to get a permit, but the city caps the number of food vendor permits that are available.

Earlier this year, City Council passed a bill that will gradually expand the number of permits, adding 4,000 over 10 years starting in 2022, but advocates say until changes are implemented, there needs to be a moratorium on enforcement.

"Street vendors are small businesses, they are entrepreneurs, they are immigrants ... and so they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," City Council member Vanessa Gibson said.

Hernandez Cruz says what happened to her was an injustice. She plans to continue to apply for a permit but says in the meantime, she wants the city to reimburse her for the food that was thrown away.

She adds she is an asset to her community, providing affordable food to those who need it and she has no plans to abandon her stand.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.