From early times to the present, food has played a central role in the urban community. Food that we eat may tell our identity, ethnicity, social class, and our state of health. In Yogyakarta, however, there are available unique places that quite potentially provide food for both the rich and the poor, the educted, the less educated, the young and the old. Students, becak drivers, taxi drives, and others spending time for eating and more importantly discussing their daily life with each other.
Quite often those people are coming from different parts of Indonesia. The unique place namely 'angkringan' (the food vendors) has been able to serve as agents of connection and interactions through their mobility (spatial), as well as cross-cultural interaction (social interaction). It is unique, because it serve almost all segment of urban residents. In other words, the food vendors could potentially make different people from different places and different social economic status meet together as one community. Mobile food stalls (angkringan) have been mushrooming since the economic crisis in Indonesia in 1998, especially in Yogyakarta. Currently, there are more than 900 mobile food stalls operated in Yogyakarta Province and around 260 in the city alone. The study indicated that the increasing number of mobile food stalls is closely related to the economic crisis and job lay-off. They have contributed to the growth of an informal sector in the urban area of Yogyakarta. Our study indicated that on the average a vendor sold 500 portions of rice packages/day with a crude income of Rp. 350.000,- per day. It means that the angkringan phenomenon has been able to provide cheap food for the less wealthy resident.
Thus, coherent situation is established in the sense that the poor who need cheap food is fulfill. The food products sold by mobile food stalls were consumed by people with a variety of professions ranging from 17-67 years of age and contributed to 44% of calories and 49% of protein needed. The microbial quality of the food products, however, exceeded the standard for total bacterial counts, especially for products that had been kept in room temperature for a prolonged time. Improving the personal hygiene of the vendors and simple sanitation procedures have reduced the microbial contamination significantly.
Coherent policy from the government leading to a better hygiene condition for the vendor is needed. It is fair that the government provide infrastructure for the vendors so that the poor can access not only cheap food, but cheap and healthy food.
It can be concluded that mobile food stalls serve as urban retail food outlets that can be accessed by diverse socio-economic, ethnic, and age groups. The presence and use of public places, the production and availability of safe food at urban points of sale and other food related issues are important considerations for food retailers, local governments, planners, urban designers, and other urban professionals.