Mobile and home-based vendors’ contributions to the retail food environment in rural South Texas Mexican-origin settlements Academic Article uri icon


  • A growing concern with high rates of obesity and overweight among immigrant minority populations in the US has focused attention on the availability and accessibility to healthy foods in such communities. Small-scale vending in rural, impoverished and underserved areas, however, is generally overlooked; yet, this type of informal activity and source for food is particularly important in such environs, or "food desserts," where traditional forms of work and mainstream food outlets are limited or even absent. This exploratory study investigates two types of small-scale food vending that take place in rural colonias, or Mexican-origin settlements along the South Texas border with Mexico: mobile and home-based. Using a convenience sample of 23 vendors who live and work in Texas colonias, this study identifies the characteristics associated with mobile and home-based food vendors and their businesses and its contributions to the rural food environment. Findings reveal that mobile and home-based vending provides a variety of food and beverage options to colonia residents, and suggests that home-based vendors contribute a greater assortment of food options, including some healthier food items, than mobile food vendors, which offer and sell a limited range of products. Findings may contribute to the development of innovative policy solutions and interventions aimed at increasing healthy food options or reducing health disparities in immigrant communities.

author list (cited authors)

  • Valdez, Z., Dean, W. R., & Sharkey, J. R.

citation count

  • 20

publication date

  • April 2012