Healthy Food Access

Over recent years, a broad literature has documented the disparity in healthy food access for low-income urban neighborhoods. There are quantified negative health outcomes associated with poor access to healthy foods, including high instances of obesity and other diet-related disease.

The Under-researched Promised of Street Food Vending, Food Banks and Community Resourcefulness in Food Deserts

More recently, researchers have noted that smaller retailers such as produce trucks and healthy street food vendors offer disseminated, locally-owned, cost-effective healthy food access in many low-income parts of the world. From a pilot study in Philadelphia, we found that curbside produce vendors in low-income neighborhoods offered lower cost, quality fruits and vegetables than nearby grocery stores (Brinkley, Chrisinger, & Hillier, 2013). Their business tenure outlasted many supermarkets in these same neighborhoods, providing a stable small, scale, cost-effective healthy food access model.

Research Activities

  • Nation-wide quantitative analysis on the impact of food deserts on diet-related health
  • Case studies investigating the impacts of grocery store interventions, food bank programming and street food vending

Related Publications

  • Horst, M., Raj, S., & Brinkley, C. (2016). Getting Outside the Supermarket Box: Alternatives to” Food Deserts”. Progressive Planning, (207).
  • chapter in: Dawson, J. C., & Morales, A. (Eds.). (2016). Cities of Farmers: Urban Agricultural Practices and Processes. University of Iowa Press.
  • Brinkley, C., Birch, E., & Keating, A. (2016). Feeding cities: Charting a research and practice agenda toward food security. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 3(4), 81-87.
  • Vitiello, D., & Brinkley, C. (2014). The hidden history of food system planning. Journal of Planning History, 13(2), 91-112.
  • Brinkley, C., & Vitiello, D. (2014). From farm to nuisance: animal agriculture and the rise of planning regulation. Journal of planning history, 13(2), 113-135.
  • Brinkley, C., Chrisinger, B., & Hillier, A. (2013). Tradition of healthy food access in low-income neighborhoods: Price and variety of curbside produce vending compared to conventional retailers. Journal of agriculture, food systems, and community development, 4(1), 155.
  • Brinkley, C. (2013). Avenues into food planning: a review of scholarly food system research. International planning studies, 18(2), 243-266.
  • Brinkley, C. (2012). Evaluating the benefits of peri-urban agriculture. CPL bibliography, 27(3), 259-269.


Welcome to our Research Group

Our research is focused on public health outcomes around the food-energy-waste nexus. We use qualitative methods along with social network mapping and spatial analytics to understand farm-to-city services such as food supply and waste-to-energy. We are particularly interested in how these networks impact neighborhood socio-economics and greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to support planning around environmental justice. As part of the UC Davis Community and Regional Development Program in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences our education program emphasizes understanding local governance, economic development, and climate change policy.