In a short pilot, a vendor selling snack bags of cut-up fresh fruits and vegetables outside an elementary school sold an increasing number of these snacks over time, while the number of area vendors selling less nutritious snacks decreased.
Mobile fruit vendors, or fruteros, are often found in Hispanic and African American city neighborhoods where access to fresh food is limited. This pilot intervention placed a single, sanctioned frutero directly outside of one Oakland, California elementary school (279 students) at dismissal time for 14 days in fall 2008. The frutero stayed each day until sales dwindled. Researchers observed sales at the frutero, as well as the presence of area vendors who sold less nutritious snacks, such as ice cream and cotton candy. Only the frutero was allowed to sell near the school. Neither teachers nor the school promoted the frutero among the children.
This brief intervention shows the feasibility of having a sanctioned frutero sell fruits and vegetables as snacks after school, and suggests the presence of such a vendor may decrease sales of vendors who sell less nutritious snacks. More study is needed to determine whether kids are substituting nutritious snacks for less nutritious alternatives, and the impact of a frutero on overall consumption by schoolchildren.