by Pat Gilbincea

CLEVELAND, Ohio — You’ll find diverse, healthy food for sale on Cleveland’s streets this summer.

Hundreds of people sampled tacos, dim sum, fruit salad and much more Thursday during an event in Ohio City that showcased Cleveland’s push to get away from the long-standing hot dog-Polish boy food carts.

Ashley Shaw, who was sampling a variety of food that included a pulled-pork, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, said the new food carts will be a welcome addition.

“I lived in Los Angeles for two years,” the 25-year-old Tremont resident said. “We’d chase down trucks like this. Believe it or not, some people would wait two hours to get food from some trucks. I’m excited. . . . we’re finally getting great food.”

Her good friend Lindsey Frick, 25, of Lakewood, agreed. She added, “I work in Tremont, and I’d definitely buy lunch from these vendors. Why? The food’s terrific, and there are no cheap takeouts in Tremont.”

Some carts are already on the street.

Business owners let visitors taste their fresh-made foods, from ceviche, a cold, marinated seafood dish, and falafel to vegetarian dishes and soul food.

The event, “Be a Nomad: A Celebration of Cleveland’s New Food Carts,” was held on West 26th Street. Officials closed a section of the street for the affair.

It featured foods from several local chefs. Organizers said it was a way to show people on the go that healthier food choices are available. Last year, Mayor Frank Jackson introduced legislation that would provide aspiring small-business owners with loans to start food-cart businesses that offer diverse, fresh and low-fat cuisine.

Kevin Schmotzer, executive director of the city’s small-business development department, said the food cart program encourages people to become entrepreneurs.

So far, two businesses have applied for loans of up to $5,000 to purchase hot-food carts. The city will offer 10 loans as part of the Cleveland Pilot Food Cart Program.

“This is really a steppingstone at a reduced cost,” Schmotzer said. “It really is a great way to promote small-business entrepreneurship.

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Story Compliments Of the Plain Dealer

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