A McMinnville teenager who tried to sell spicy corn on the cob from a cart, only to be shut down by county health officials, has received an outpouring of community support for his entrepreneurial efforts. (Marcus Larson/News-Register)
A McMinnville teenager who tried to sell spicy corn on the cob from a cart, only to be shut down by county health officials, has received an outpouring of community support for his entrepreneurial efforts.
Miguel Lozano put his budding business on hold after a county health officer approached him at the cart he made with this father, and told him he needed to buy a permit and had to meet other regulations to continue selling his elotes, a traditional Mexican street food.
Miguel had started the cart, dubbed MigElotes, a play on his name and the spicy cobs of corn, in order to buy school clothes and, he said, eventually a car.
Numerous people contacted the News-Register about how they could help the teen, including out-of-towners who read about his plight in other media, and others posted their support on his MigElotes Facebook page.
A woman started a GoFundMe page for the teen and by Friday afternoon more than $1,700 had been raised to pay for his permit, a portable hand-washing stand and other costs.
Yamhill County Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin said the cost of permits for food service start at $149. Miguel initially thought the health officer told him he would need to pay $1,415, an amount he described as “too much.”
“We value community and young entrepreneurship,” Manfrin said. “We also have an obligation to assure health and safety standards are met when individuals are selling perishable items to the community.”
Several people, including those from the Oregon coast and the Portland area, offered to help Miguel, who has a food service card. He has not yet announced plans to resume selling elotes, which are covered in mayonnaise, cotija cheese and spices such as crushed hot Cheetos.
When Miguel announced the closure of MigElotes on his Facebook page, response was swift. His post quickly drew dozens of supportive responses, including several from food professionals who offered advice and help.
“Our community supports you,” more than one person wrote.
Several people recommended fundraising. One suggested selling T-shirts that say “Free MigElotes.” Others questioned why garage sales, garden produce booths and lemonade stands are OK, but Miguel’s business is not.
“The government should not be shutting down young entrepreneurs,” a Facebook poster wrote. “Whether it’s a lemon aid stand, mowing lawns or Elotes, the government needs to keep their hands out of it. These kids are the future of small business.”
Miguel said he appreciates the sentiments. He posted on his MigElotes Facebook page, “Thank you for the continuous love and support. Believe me when I say I want to keep serving you all. Please stay tuned.”
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