Online Program

Promoting mobile food vendors: Risks and opportunities in south los angeles

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nicholas Gorman, MPH, Ed.D., School of Nursing, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Mark Vallianatos, B.A., J.D., Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
Giulia Pasciuto, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Heng Lam Foong, MS, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
Introduction: Research has shown that the presence and concentration of grocery stores in a community predicts nutrition and has been linked to positive community outcomes. This finding is problematic in urban food deserts such as those of South Los Angeles where there are few supermarkets and high barriers to opening new stores. Mobile food vendors may represent a culturally appropriate opportunity for bringing healthy foods into these communities, but before policy changes encouraging mobile vendors can be proposed, questions regarding the risks and opportunities posed by these vendors, many of whom may be operating without legal permits, must be addressed. Methods: Spanish-speaking health promoters surveyed a total of 45 permitted and unpermitted mobile food vendors operating within a set of predefined zones throughout South Los Angeles in order to document the existing landscape of vendors. In addition, three community meetings were held with over 90 community residents from South Los Angeles in order to present information on food access policy interventions targeting mobile food vendors and to gauge the community's support. Results: Surveyors collected descriptive information on the characteristics of vendors' vehicles, foods offered, supply logistics, knowledge and attitudes towards local laws, and encounters with law enforcement and health department officials. Community meetings with residents highlighted and ranked three policy interventions related to mobile food vendors in their community. Discussion: Results highlighted both opportunities and risks posed by the existing milieu of mobile food vendors. Policy interventions based on these findings and on discussions with the community are proposed.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify the food safety and nutritional risks and opportunities posed by mobile food vendors operating in urban food deserts. Discuss several policy interventions designed to encourage or better regulate mobile food vendors. Describe the characteristics of mobile food vendors operating in South Los Angeles. Analyze the relationship between the community's support of mobile food vending policies and the current landscape of mobile vendors in Los Angeles.

Keyword(s): Environment, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a research consultant on multiple grant-funded projects focussing on the topics of nutrition, advocacy, and social justice. My own research in public health also includes obesity and the role of the built environment on health.
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.