Mónica Rivera is in a state of limbo. The Tijuana native is one of the dozens of unlicensed food vendors that operate in San Francisco’s Mission District. Her husband, who started the Mexican snack cart six years ago, was forced to return to his native Peru to apply for a U.S. visa, leaving Mónica to operate the cart on her own.
A naturalized citizen and former postal worker, Mónica says the cart provides enough to pay the bills and allows her the freedom she needs to manage the family — all by selling low-cost fare like salty sweet mangonada slushes and fruit slices topped with lime juice and chili. After going through a three-month course for would-be women entrepreneurs, Mónica found that taking the cart “legit” wouldn’t be worth it. She dreams of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant with her husband one day.