248573 Green Carts in the Bronx - Are mobile produce vendors selling how and where they are most needed?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:50 PM

Sean C. Lucan, MD, MPH, MS , Department of Family and Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center / Albert EInstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Andrew Maroko, PhD , Department of Health Sciences, Lehman College, City University of New York, Bronx, NY
Renee L. Shanker, MSW, MPH , Department of Family and Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY
William B. Jordan, MD MPH , Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
INTRODUCTION: Obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately affect urban, low-income, minority communities. Limited access to fresh produce may contribute. One strategy to address limited produce access is Green Carts (i.e. mobile street carts selling whole fresh produce). Unfortunately, the impact of Green Carts in urban communities is unknown. To provide insights about possible impact, we assessed Green Carts in the Bronx. METHODS: Researchers canvassed the entire geographic area of the Bronx (42 square miles) looking for Green Carts in summer 2010. For each cart, researchers recorded unique permit number, exact location, items being sold, and vendors' answers to questions about when they sell and where. We used ArcGIS software for mapping and spatial analyses. RESULTS: Researchers identified 61 Green Carts. Carts tended to be clustered (average-nearest-neighbor-analysis ratio was 0.54 [<1 = clustered], p <0.0001), and located around medical, academic, transportation, retail, and recreation centers. Nearly 43% of the disadvantaged Bronx area where Green Carts are allowed was greater than 0.5 miles away from carts. A small number of carts sold disallowed sugar-sweetened beverages and cookies. DISCUSSION: Green carts cluster in areas of high pedestrian traffic which might not deliver produce to communities most in need. While high-traffic locations could maximize sales, price competition in these areas could limit profits, and thus Green Cart success. Selling sugary products could augment profitability, but runs counter to the Green Carts' intent. Additional support could help Green Carts avoid clustering and selling unhealthy products, while still generating sufficient revenue to provide fresh produce where needed.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss an understudied but potentially important aspect of the food environment in urban communities: Green Carts (i.e. mobile street carts selling fresh produce). Discuss data from a Green Cart assessment in the Bronx, describing cart locations and food offerings. Demonstrate how spatial analytics can be applied to studies of the food environment using a Green Cart example to demonstrate mapping techniques and statistics.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a grant-funded public-health researcher, focusing on how the food environment influences people's dietary behaviors. I am also a practicing family physician, treating urban, low-income, minority patients afflicted by obesity and diet-related diseases.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.