Posted on September 30, 2015
Healthy food initiative in LA’s Promise Zone to receive $350k
Healthy food initiative in LA’s Promise Zone to receive $350k Federal Grant from USDA
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Leadership For Urban Renewal Network (LURN), a community development non-profit, a grant through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program. LURN was awarded $350,580 over the next three years to support COMPRA Foods (Community Markets Purchasing Real and Affordable), a social enterprise cooperative administered in partnership with the LA Food Policy Council, that aims to distribute produce and healthy snacks to small convenience stores in low-income neighborhoods.
“Mom and pop” neighborhood markets make up the majority of food retail in many low-income communities, yet small markets struggle to procure healthy products at reasonable prices. Though Los Angeles is home to the nation’s largest produce terminal market, small businesses with limited resources are unable to access agricultural products available due to time limitations, finances and capacity. Limited healthy food options contribute to disproportionate rates of diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, in low-income communities of color.
In the absence of major grocery stores in low-income areas, COMPRA Foods aims to establish a strong and sustainable connection between agricultural producers, distributors, and the small food retailers that local residents depend on in low-income neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
COMPRA Foods currently operates in communities like South LA and Boyle Heights, where the lack of healthy and affordable food designate these areas as “food deserts” and “food swamps.” Federal funds will be used to expand COMPRA Foods to similar communities in the federally designated Promise Zone area in Los Angeles. COMPRA Foods will complement the other efforts taking place in Los Angeles’ Promise Zone that are helping to cultivate a demand for healthy food. The Promise Zone is a federal designation that prioritizes resources to improve the lives of residents in low-income communities. There are only 5 Promise Zones nationwide.
COMPRA Foods was designed in partnership with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC). Since 2012, LAFPC has provided business and leadership development training and technical assistance to neighborhood markets to help them sell healthy food through a program called the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network. Other key partners in the program include Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA), and Team Friday.
LURN is a nonprofit community and economic development based in Boyle Heights. Its mission is to bring people together to design, build and promote sustainable communities that allow people to live their greatest potential. More information can be found at www.lurnetwork.org.