A Household-Owned Market in LA Gives Residents Contemporary Meals in a Meals Desert – NBC Los Angeles
What to know
- An “Urban Food Desert” is a neighborhood that has no access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.
- These areas are usually in surplus of liquor stores, fast food restaurants, and corner stores selling candy and junk food.
- Low-income families in these areas (mostly people of color) often do not have the opportunity to travel to other areas to buy fresh groceries.
Lupita’s Corner Store is located at the intersection of 3rd and Lucas, an area that the Los Angeles Food Policy Council has designated as one of LA’s food deserts.
There are a variety of liquor stores, fast food chains, and mom and pop shops that sell junk food for miles around the store. But you won’t see a store that offers fresh groceries at affordable prices.
“Los Angeles County is home to the largest food insecure population in the country,” said Claire Fox of the LAFPC. “It’s a combination of economic hardship and economic inequality, combined with racism. And combined with the fact that people in their neighborhood don’t have healthy food options.”
Lupita’s Corner Store was opened 27 years ago by Lupita from a single mother of two. This year her daughter Luz will take over the family business and with the change of ownership she hopes to be able to tackle the problem of “apartheid with fresh food” in her neighborhood.
“Our zip code shouldn’t have any influence on how long we live or what quality of life we have.” Says Fox.
LAFPC is making Luz’s dream come true by choosing her for one of their “small business transformations”. Some of the LA construction heavyweights (including world-renowned architecture firm Gensler and the Build Group, all of whom are subcontracting and building contractors) agreed to be part of this project – most providing their materials and labor for free.
“Race is the basis of whether or not a family has access to fresh food.” According to Fox, racial segregation explains the food desert phenomenon. “That’s why we see high rates of diabetes and heart disease among African Americans and Latinos.”
Not only is the redesigned Lupita’s Corner store a place to buy fruits, vegetables, and healthy snacks (all prominently displayed at the front of the store), the bright windows and welcoming design of the space are also inviting to the neighborhood to participate in workshops and discussions on issues affecting nutrition and community health.
Both Luz and her mother Lupita cried for joy at the opening.
The business is right between several schools, so the family hopes this remodel will change the community in visible ways. LAFPC will continue to work with Luz and Lupita over the next few years to ensure their continued success.