Lesli Hoey is the recipient of a 2020 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award. Hoey is an associate professor of urban and regional planning.
Hoey’s research will examine how Bolivia’s Promotion of Healthy Food Law is affecting urban food systems planning, particularly the role that street food vendors play in shaping urban school food environments. She aims to offer a proof of concept for operationalizing the law based on an initiative carried out in the municipality of Montero. Reaching 35,000 students, the Montero mayor’s office focused for six years on mobilizing diverse stakeholders across the city to change the content of school meals and nutrition education, alongside efforts to improve the livelihoods of street food vendors who supply much of the food that school children eat both inside and outside school grounds. In addition to informing policy in Bolivia and similar countries grappling with the double burden of malnutrition (where undernutrition exists alongside the rise of obesity/overweight and diet-related diseases), studying the Montero case also will fill multiple research gaps related to food systems planning.
For more than 10 years, Hoey’s research has focused on grassroots movements and government-led strategies for creating more sustainable, health-promoting, and equitable food systems. She began studying nutrition policy in Bolivia as she tracked the implementation of the Zero Malnutrition program from 2007 through 2012, which helped her establish lasting networks within the Ministry of Health and among health and food systems professionals in nongovernmental organizations and international institutions. More recently, she was the co-investigator of a longitudinal study in the Bolivian cities of El Alto and Montero that compared factors affecting in the double burden of malnutrition in urban, peri-urban, and rural environments. Through that project, she led food environment inventories and vendor surveys that mapped more than 1,000 food outlets across these sites in 2015 and again in 2017, findings which will be published this coming year.
Hoey is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad this year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. It is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.
Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.