Sixth healthy food business training for neighborhood markets held in Watts

IMG_6867The “Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses: A Business and Leadership Development Training for Neighborhood Markets” event was held on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at Watts Labor Community Action Committee at Phoenix Hall, 10950 S. Central Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90059.

This event was the sixth training held by the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network (HNMN), a project of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. The Healthy Neighborhood Market Network builds the capacity of neighborhood markets to be successful healthy food retailers in under-served communities. The HNMN provides innovative business and leadership development resources to entrepreneurs operating in communities with limited healthy food access, and connects them to new partners, so that they can thrive as business and community leaders. Over 50 community residents and key stakeholders attended this training. 29 of those attendees self-reported as corner store, or small food business owners.

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Program Recap

This year, the Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses conference served as a pilot of a new “Healthy Neighborhood Market curriculum” that will provide a road map for successfully growing the healthy food aspect of any small business. Workshop leaders were organized into three categories of business development: Capacity, Capital, and Community. Over the course of the training, participants were encouraged to take notes during each workshop using an “Action Planning Tool,” which focused each small business owner on identifying several specific action steps to bring concrete change to their store or business.

The program began with remarks from Frank Aguirre, from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Economic Development, Clare Fox, Director of Policy and Innovation at the LA Food Policy Council, and Jorge Nuno, Founder of NTS Creative Group. Plenary speakers set the stage for the day, describing the role of health-focused neighborhood markets in both contributing to a healthy economy and improving community health.

Part 1: Capacity
For Part 1 of the Healthy Neighborhood Markets training curriculum, workshop leaders shared expertise and tools to build the capacity of small business owners to operationalize healthy food in their stores on a day to day basis. Megan Ranegar from Whole Foods Market spoke on marketing and branding techniques for healthy food. Jin Ju Wilder from Valley Fruit and Produce shared fresh food product trends and management tips. Then, Barnaby Montgomery from Yummy.com shared a case study of his healthy neighborhood market model, and offered merchandising strategies for maximizing the profitability of fresh food products.

Networking Lunch & Vendor Expo
Following remarks from the office of Council Member Joe Buscaino (CD 15), participants enjoyed a (mostly) organic, vegetarian-friendly meal and presentation by Bibimbap Backpackers. Resource providers including healthy food vendors, business lenders and counselors, community organizations, government agencies, design and marketing consultants, small business demographics analysts, health coaches and POS system vendors – spent the lunch hour connecting with small businesses and demonstrate their products and services.

Part 2: Capital
The second part of the curriculum included strategies for accessing capital to improve healthy neighborhood markets, and how to make efficient use of that capital. The highlight of this section of the program was a market makeover case study. Nelson Garcia, a South LA entrepreneur who worked closely with the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network’s store consultant team from fall 2012 – spring 2014 to transform his corner store into a healthy neighborhood market, offered a testimonial of his experiences. Michael Powell, brand strategist and Shook Kelley and HNMN consultant, presented a case study of this market conversion pilot. Sharon Evans from Business Resource Group spoke on scaled capital investments in small businesses. Terry Gubatan from Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation reviewed the basics of business planning for growth and change.

Part 3: Community
The training curriculum concluded with tips and guidelines for identifying healthy food products, shared by Julie Ward from Love Life, Eat Well. Julie rallied training participants with an inspiring call to small business leaders as champions of healthy food in their stores, and key stakeholders in promoting community health. Clare Fox from the LA Food Policy Council coordinated a brief group discussion, where participants shared what they learned, and how they planned to put new knowledge to work after the training to grow their stores into healthy food hubs. This curriculum is currently in development.

Feedback

Responses from training participants were overwhelmingly positive. Of the 15 event surveys received, all respondents were satisfied with the information provided at the training. About half of respondents reported that they operate businesses in the South LA or Central LA areas, but there were several respondents visiting from the greater LA County and beyond, including Monterey Park, Glendale, Van Nuys, Compton, and Lakewood.

A majority of small business owner respondents reported an increase in confidence about the following topics: community partnerships, branding, marketing, produce management, produce & healthy food trends, merchandise strategy, profitability of fresh food, access to capital / investment opportunities, business planning, health & nutrition.

Respondents said the most valuable parts of the event were: networking (3), healthy food marketing strategies (3), community health and nutrition (3), information about cooperative purchasing, start-up knowledge and resources, and the vendor expo/networking lunch with resource providers.

More than half of respondents were interested in growing their business through a loan or other capital investment. They reported plans to use new funds to purchase equipment, or to redesign their store.

Coming out of the training, respondents were asked about three immediate action steps. Responses were diverse, from plans to introduce a small new quantity of fruits (2), transform marketing/branding strategy (4), redesigning the store appearance, networking, community events, expand healthy food options, change customer service strategy, contact purchasing cooperative, and create a new vision/business plan.

A majority of respondents said that they would like to expand (7) the healthy food options in their store, or add new healthy food options (4) to their inventory. Remaining respondents stated that they did not own a business.

2015 Events

The Healthy Neighborhood Market Network will continue to offer capacity-building and networking opportunities this year!

salads TXTThe storeowner training curriculum will be refined and deployed as a series geared for a core leadership contingent of the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network in early 2016. In the meantime, HNMN capacity-building training events will continue to take place throughout 2015.

To receive the 2015 event calendar and other updates, please call HNMN Coordinator Esther Park at 213-473-9739 or email healthymarkets[at]goodfoodla[dot]org and request to receive the HNMN Resource Newsletter.

LA2050 Connect: Top 5 Reasons to vote for the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network

la2050collageThe Healthy Neighborhood Market Network, a project of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, builds the capacity of small ‘mom n’ pop’ store owners in ‘food desert’ communities to thrive as good food businesses and civic leaders through ongoing, multi-lingual business and leadership development trainings, mentorship and consulting.

To support the growing Healthy Neighborhood Market Network, we’ve entered a bid for $100,000 in a voting-based grant challenge called #LA2050. The LA2050 Grant Challenge is a competition hosted by the Goldhirsh Foundation to spur creative thinking and seed new projects in LA that will make our city a better place to “CREATE,” “LEARN,” “CONNECT,” “PLAY” or be the “Healthiest Place to LIVE” by the year 2050.

Here’s a link to our page on the grant contest website -
http://myla2050connect.maker.good.is/projects/goodfoodla

We’re competing in the “CONNECT” category, because the HNMN creates a place where food businesses can connect with each other across languages and find new partners in business, leadership development, community outreach, and government/public policy—all in the name of becoming healthier! The LA2050 grant will help us grow this network from 200 trained stores to 400 (!), and fund us to continue supporting  food enterprises in low-income neighborhoods that strengthen the food equity movement.

There are many worthwhile projects submitted in each category, including many by our partners and friends (link to list). The voting period runs for two weeks from September 2 – 16, 2014. Each person gets ONE vote in EACH category.

Here’s what your vote for the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network in the LA2050 CONNECT category will do:

1. Grow Good Food Business. HNMN builds the capacity of small businesses in low-income communities to do good and thrive. 

IMG_2235Family-owned neighborhood markets are such important resources in so many LA communities (there are over 3,000 in LA County!), but there aren’t many resources and support networks designed just for these small business entrepreneurs in their own languages.

What we do -

  • HNMN offers a multi-language, cutting-edge business training curriculum
  • connects HNMN members to the LA Food Policy Council network of 500 food system stakeholders, food industry professionals, community finance, government reps, advocates and policy thinkers
  • empowers neighborhood market owners to grow their business as community-serving healthy food retailers!

“Many small corner store owners are first generation immigrants, simply trying to make a living, just like us. And with so much competition, it’s important to carve out a niche in this area of food business. My family went to one of the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network storeowner trainings last year and met so many different people who had great advice and were willing to work with us. We want to sell more healthy food in our community, and now we know where to start. “
— Henry and Irma Rivas, Store Owners, Ensenada Meat Market

2. Connect Good Food Neighbors. HNMN strengthens the social fabric by connecting small markets and local neighborhood groups.

instragram groupCorner stores already act as pocket community hubs in many neighborhoods, so when they bring in healthy food to meet customers’ needs, they’re building on an existing bond.

What we do –

  • HNMN partners connect with local community groups
  • Schools, clinics, libraries, churches and neighborhood councils become “Good Food Neighbors” to their local store, promising to spread the word about the good eats now available there.
  • Store owners provide a trusted site for cooking demos, health consultations, and mentorship for youth entrepreneurs.

“Alba Snacks and Services Market is located a few blocks away from my high school. The store owner, Mr. Nelson Garcia, started to sell healthier snacks this year, but before he did that, he asked my high school to do a survey and see if the community was interested in buying healthy snacks at his store. So, a small team of us created a survey and collected 199 responses. People around the neighborhood were happy to know that somebody was doing something to bring us healthier food. Personally, I am already more of an outspoken person, and being in the market research team helped me learn that I want to do something for the greater good, that impacts people at a large scale.”
— Natasha Guandique, Junior, Augustus F. Hawkins High School

3. Build Good Food Communities. 

I13552614973_637d364558_on some low-income neighborhoods, neighborhood markets make up 90% of the food retail environment.

What we do –

  • HNMN invests in the existing food retail landscape, supporting local ownership and keeps the dollar within the community.
  • We support neighborhood revitalization AND stabilization.

“You can’t underestimate the role of neighborhood markets as a way to achieve health equity, community development and economic revitalization. In South Los Angeles and East Los Angeles, where there are high concentrations of low-income residents, and very poor access to healthy food options, significant challenges to the economic vitality of the neighborhood result. Folks are doing what they can, but there’s not a lot of public or private investment in the commercial corridors. In these circumstances, land use and retail use that will generate other constructive land uses and economic uses are needed. And a grocery store or food store is a really good choice to accomplish that.”
– Mary Lee, PolicyLink / LA Food Policy Council Leadership Board Member

4. Create a Good Food System. As a sector-wide initiative, HNMN seeks scaled impact, transforming ‘food desert’ neighborhoods by training hundreds of small stores at a time.

IMG_2031This project recognizes the neighborhood market as a critical stakeholder in the movement to make healthy food available to all Angelenos.

What we do –

  • HNMN provides ongoing business and technical assistance training to support stores as healthy food retailers,
  • We work to find systems solutions to the distribution, permitting and regulatory issues that make selling healthy food challenging for small businesses.

“Organizing neighborhood market owners makes it possible to learn together, grow together, and in the future, maybe even buy fruits and vegetables together to make healthy food more affordable for all their customers. The HNMN invests in the small businesses and leaders that already exist in our communities, so that they can tackle day-to-day business challenges better together, but also so that they can raise their voice to shape policies in our city that will really work for good food businesses.”
— Rudy Espinoza, LURN / LA Food Policy Council Leadership Board Member

5. Raise new & needed voices in the Good Food Movement.

LAFPC Logo with lots white spaceThe LA Food Policy Council catalyzes, coordinates and connects networks for social change with our diverse partners in the public, private and non-profit arenas. We’re bringing these great connections to neighborhood markets across LA even more!

Our philosophy is that social connectedness done right will create collaborative action that brings benefit to everyone.

By 2050, we want good food to be the easiest choice in all communities in LA. The Healthy Neighborhood Market Network is making that happen by connecting good food businesses to local agriculture systems, entrepreneurship resources, and the immense environmental sustainability movement to expand access to healthy food in underserved communities.

LA2050: Vote to connect good food businesses with community for social change!

Please watch the video, read our submission, and vote for the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network in the CONNECT category between September 2-16. To receive an email reminder with instructions on how to vote, contact healthymarkets@goodfoodla.org

Save the Date: Neighborhood Market Training on Thursday September 25 (9/25)

한국어 | Espanol

Are you ready to sell more healthy food, but not sure how to get started or how to make money doing it?

Join the Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s Healthy Neighborhood Market Network for its third annual business and leadership development training: “Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses,” on Thursday, September 25, 2014 from 9:00am to 5:00 pm at 10950 S. Central Ave. South Los Angeles (Watts), CA 90011.

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“Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses” is a training and networking event for corner stores, small family businesses, neighborhood markets and food entrepreneurs who want to succeed with healthy food. This is a full day training for entrepreneurs who want to learn, grow, and make valuable connections for their business.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Industry leaders share the nuts and bolts of how to be a successful healthy food retailer.
  • Receive tips and tools that are designed for neighborhood markets.
  • Build your network! Find new partners from government, nonprofit and food industry who want to help you bring healthy food to your store.
  • Make your dreams come true! We’ll help you create a customized “action plan” to make healthy snacks, fruits and vegetables a successful part of your neighborhood market.

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 EVENT DETAILS

flyer31Title: Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses – A Business and Leadership Development Training for Neighborhood Markets
Date:  Thursday, September 25, 2014 (9/25/2014)
Time: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Lunch is provided.
Location: Watts Labor Community Action Committee – Phoenix Hall
10950 S. Central Ave. Phoenix Hall, South Los Angeles (Watts), CA 90059
Language: Translation and materials available in Korean and Spanish
Cost: Free for neighborhood markets, corner stores, community leaders, and students. General public registration fee is $25.
Register to Attend:
By Phone – Esther Park 213-473-9739
By Email – healthymarkets@goodfoodla.org
Online Registration – neighborhoodmarkets2014.eventbrite.com

Download this event flyer in Korean or Spanish, and share it with food entrepreneurs and corner store owners you know!

*For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations, please contact Esther at epark@goodfoodla.org or call 626-672-8555.

 


With generous support from:

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