June Tester, MD, MPH

June Tester, MD, MPH


Can street vending be used as a model to increase access to healthy food?

June Tester (Cohort 3 scholar) was recently notified that a grant she submitted will be funded by the Healthy Eating Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Healthy Eating Research is a $16 million national program which supports research on environmental and policy strategies to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity. June will serve as the Co-Principal Investigator based at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, and will be working with Barbara Laraia (PI, Assistant Professor at UCSF) and Irene Yen (Co-Investigator, Assistant Professor at UCSF).

Their proposed study will explore the role of street vending in the after school snacking patterns of school children in Oakland, CA. This research will study the purchases that are made at street vendors, with a plan to focus most directly on the purchases made at Latino ice cream pushcarts (paleteros). Observational data as well as in-depth interviews with school staff and with vendors will be used to design an intervention that will increase access to healthy snacks by using mobile vending. This study will pilot an intervention period and examine feasibility factors such as the amount of community interest in this vending, and the amount of revenue that can be generated by such ventures.

This is a novel research idea that has very interesting potential policy suggestions. Should street vendors that sell healthy items be allowed (and encouraged) to sell in close proximity to a school? Should vending of healthy items be subsidized? Such questions need to be asked, and June and her colleagues look forward to offering some potential answers.

Related links:

Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute

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June Tester, MD, MPH