Spring 2014 at a Glance: Healthy Neighborhood Market Launches, Public Recognition, Skill-Building Workshops for Store Owners

Lots of great things have been going on with the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network this spring!

Healthy Neighborhood Markets: Spring Store Launches

South Los Angeles: Alba Snacks & Services, 6001 S.Vermont Ave. 90044

13552879875_0cc815505a_zOn Saturday, March 29, Healthy Neighborhood Market Network member and South LA entrepreneur Nelson Garcia officially relaunched his corner store, $1 Dollar Warehouse as Alba Snacks & Services (6001 S. Vermont Ave. 90044), a new Healthy Neighborhood Market. For the past year, Nelson worked closely with staff at the Los Angeles Food Policy Council along with food retail and business development consultants at Shook Kelley and LURN to develop a vibrant re-design plan for Nelson’s store. Through a transformative renovation and business plan, Nelson re-branded his store “Alba Snacks and Services” and began to offer fresh and healthy food, starting with a “Healthy Snack Zone” and a “Community Zone” with computer access and wi-fi in his store. 13551836945_e5356d22cd_o

Over 200 students, families, local residents and community leaders came out to a block party community event that Saturday, celebrating the grand reopening of Alba Snacks & Services. Read about the block party community event (link), Nelson’s partnership with Augustus F. Hawkins High School (link), and see photos from the lively March 29 block party (links to Flickr here and here)!

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Historic Filipinotown: Hope’s Liquor & Market, 2104 Beverly Blvd. 90057

image_7Hope’s Liquor & Market (2104 Beverly Blvd. 90057) owner Sonia Kaur has been working with the LA Food Policy Council and the Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA) Fresh HiFi project to introduce healthy, organic produce and snack options at her corner store in Historic Filipinotown.

On Wednesday, April 30, Sonia invited local neighborhood institutions to a “Neighbors Meet & Greet” at her store (link to Eventbrite), to get to know the community leaders who live and work near her store, and to share her intention of becoming a healthy food retailer. Children’s Institute, Regis House Community Center, St. Vincent Medical Center, Union Avenue Elementary School, and other local community groups dropped into the store to have a cup of coffee with Sonia, check out the new Fresh & Healthy Section inside her store, and offer input about what kind of healthy food products they want to see at Hope’s Market. Sonia is now carrying whole fruits and vegetables, yogurt, a variety of milk options, tofu and whole grain bread. In the next year, she plans to become a reliable healthy food supplier to local neighborhood institutions, expand into healthy prepared snack foods and grab-and-go meals as her healthy food customer base grows stronger.

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Boyle Heights: Salva Market, 2108 E. 1st St. 90033

30With project based consulting from the LA Food Policy Council and community engagement support from the La Causa Youthbuild PALOMA team, Salva Market (2108 E. 1st St. 90033) owner Abel brought new healthy organic fruits and vegetables into his store this spring. Produce carried in the store is grown locally by South LA food and social enterprise Community Services Unlimited, Inc.

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Healthy Neighborhood Markets: Public Recognition by Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

newsletterphotoHealthy Neighborhood Market Network members continue to be recognized for their innovation and leadership as healthy food retailers in LA. On Wednesday, April 30, HNMN member and South LA storeowner Nelson Garcia was featured in an event called “Kiva LA Reunion,” hosted by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Economic Development to celebrate LA’s Kiva Zip entrepreneurs. The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Kiva Zip acknowledged Nelson’s leadership in the transformation of his South LA corner store as a healthy neighborhood market this spring (See above), using a 0% interest, crowd-sourced Kiva Zip loan, and in-kind technical support from experts in the HNMN resource referral network. Check out store owner Nelson Garcia’s successfully funded Kiva Zip loan profile here (link)!

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Skill-Building Workshops: May 2 Korean Language-Focused Training

IMG_8453On Friday, May 2, 2014, Korean-speaking corner store owners from across Los Angeles County gathered for a free business development and networking event, called “Our Healthy Neighborhood Market: Leaders in Business and Community,” hosted jointly by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) and the Asian Business Association (ABA).  A networking lunch was followed by an expert panel, where experts spoke on industry trends in healthy food retail, meeting the needs of Latino consumers, SBA financing, and legal tips for neighborhood markets. The event was the fifth in a series of “Healthy Neighborhood Market Network” (HNMN) trainings coordinated by the LAFPC, aimed specifically to support small storeowners across Los Angeles County successfully promote the sale of healthy foods in under-served communities.  LAFPC has trained over 200 storeowners and other food entrepreneurs through this program over the last two years. Read more about the May 2 store owner training event here (link). The next event in the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network training series will take place this fall. The HNMN event will include healthy food retailer workshops, business and leadership development tips, resource networking, and a healthy food vendor expo. Details will be shared through the HNMN quarterly newsletter.

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To receive the HNMN quarterly newsletter, and stay up to date with resources for healthy food retailers, and volunteer opportunities in healthy food access efforts, email Esther Park, HNMN Outreach Coordinator, at healthymarkets[at]goodfoodla[dot]org.

Celebrate the Grand Opening of a new Healthy Neighborhood Market in South LA!

Nelson Garcia is transforming his convenience store $1 Dollar Warehouse (60th / Vermont in South Los Angeles) into a Healthy Neighborhood Market under the name Alba Snacks & Services! With his successful online crowd-sourced loan through Kiva Zip, he is creating exciting changes in his market, including a new Healthy Snack Zone with new healthy products for students at nearby John Muir Middle School and Hawkins High School.

Community Celebration and Press Conference on Saturday, March 29!

Join us to celebrate the grand re-opening of Mr. Garcia’s store with a family-friendly street party — good eats, music, arts & dance, smoothie demonstrations, face painting & games, a resource fair, prize raffles and special in-store discounts. Meet Nelson, and the retail consultants, local students and neighborhood allies who make up Nelson’s team. Festivities begin at 11AM and end at 3:30PM. (Facebook Event Page)

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Join Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr. (City Council District 9), South LA store owner Nelson Garcia, and friends from Augustus Hawkins High School, Los Angeles Food Policy Council, LURN, Shook Kelley, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, and Southern California Library at a press conference at 12PM to acknowledge this market makeover project and all the “Good Food Neighbors” who have committed their support to its success. Then, eat, dance, play, and enjoy the party!

Store Owner Spotlight: Nelson Garcia of $1 Dollar Warehouse

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Update: As of February 20, 2014, Nelson is fully funded on his first Kiva Zip loan (referenced below)! Thank you to all who contributed to his campaign. Stay tuned for updates on Nelson’s journey to transform his neighborhood market.

Every quarter, the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network (HNMN) highlights the efforts of local store operator working actively to grow their business through healthy food. In this edition, we spotlight Nelson Garcia, owner of $1 Dollar Warehouse, a snacks and general goods convenience store in South Los Angeles.

For the past year, Nelson worked closely with staff at the Los Angeles Food Policy Council along with food retail and business development consultants at Shook Kelley and LURN to develop a vibrant re-design plan for Nelson’s store. Through a transformative renovation and business plan, Nelson will re-brand his store “Alba Snacks and Services” and begin to offer fresh and healthy food, starting with a “Healthy Snack Zone” in his store early this year.

To support this “market makeover” project, Nelson is raising funds through a crowd-sourced loan through Kiva Zip. Will you back Nelson? You can be a lender with as little as $25. Find out more here.

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As a charismatic business leader in his community, Nelson offered inspiring words as key note speaker at the first-ever Spanish-language business training of the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network, held in Boyle Heights in April 2013. In September, the office of Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Curren D. Price recognized Nelson as a “Healthy Food Champion” for his ambition to provide improved food services.

To build a base of support in the community, Nelson has partnered with a team of students and teachers at a nearby school, Augustus F. Hawkins High School, located a few blocks from his store. Hawkins High School students are an important customer base for Nelson’s store, because they buy snacks before and after the school day. With support from the LAFPC, Hawkins students surveyed nearly 200 local students and residents and presented their findings and recommendations to Nelson on what healthy snack foods their classmates prefer. The students found that there is a dearth of healthy food options though many of their peers would love to buy fruit, yogurt, healthy snack bars and sushi., if it were available.

EvelinOne of those student advisers, Evelin Hernandez, sat down with Nelson Garcia to learn more about his goals for being a healthy food retailer in South Los Angeles. Continue reading