Availability, Density, Variety, and Distribution of Street Food Stands and Street Foods Across a Mexican City: An Assessment Using the Street Food Stand Assessment Tool
Background. Street food stands (SFS) are common ways in which people in Mexico access food, having been a part of the environment and culture of Mexican food for generations. However, no studies have used a validated assessment tool to reliably measure food and beverage availability at a variety of SFS. Nor have the availability, density, variety, and distribution of SFS and street foods and beverages been assessed across neighborhood income levels.Objective: This dissertation’s goal was to decrease gaps in knowledge about the role SFS may play in food availability in the Mexican food environment.
Methods: Survey design and ethnographic field methods were used to develop, test, and validate the Street Food Stand Assessment Tool (SFSAT). Geographic information system and ground-truthing methods were used to identify a sample of street segments across 20 neighborhoods representing low-, middle- and high-income neighborhoods in Mexico City on which to assess the availability, density, variety, and distribution of SFS and the foods and beverages sold at these food venues using the SFSAT.
Results: A sample of 391 SFS were assessed across 791 street segments. Results showed that SFS were found in all neighborhoods. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, most SFS were found in middle-income neighborhoods. While the availability of street foods and beverages was higher in middle-income neighborhoods, the variety was less consistent: fruit/vegetable variety was high in high-income neighborhoods whereas processed snack variety was higher in low-income neighborhoods. SFS were most often distributed near homes, transportation centers, and worksites across the three neighborhood income levels.
Conclusion: This study bridged the gap in knowledge about the availability, density, variety, and distribution of SFS and products sold at these sources of food by using an assessment tool that was developed, tested, and validated specifically for SFS. The findings showed that SFS were found across all neighborhoods. Furthermore, results also suggested that SFS can be a source of healthy food items. Additional studies are needed to understand the relationship between SFS availability, food consumption, and health outcomes in the Mexican population.