Updated on February 2, 2016
Is Fresh HiFi Still Fresh?
By Ailene Ignacio
By now, most folks know me as that girl from P-Town that used to work on corner store conversions in the underserved community of Historic Filipinotown. But now that the Fresh HiFi project is no longer funded, what does this mean for the work we’ve done with our local partners, stores and community institutions alike. And more importantly, what does it mean for the actual community, the people who work and live to survive in this struggling part of Los Angeles? Where do we all go from here? I didn’t know then, and honestly, I still don’t know now. But I am willing to work to find out.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it has been all fine and dandy, especially after the project ran out of funding. This past year has been really tough, not just on the project, but on me personally. Living in the same community as my work, the inevitable deterioration of all the work we did from 2012 to 2014 are not things that I can ignore so easily. Trust me: even if I wanted to try, I really couldn’t. I have to drive past my stores every day on the way to either of my two new jobs, so that feeling of guilt, shame, and knowing that I should be doing more to help these people (that have become my family) that I was able to invest in for years, all of that washes over me every. single. day. And what adds more to that guilt? None of my family hold anything against me. They all understand where I’m coming from. And even though I’m the one that’s supposed to be helping them, they have helped me more than they know. Somehow, they give me enough compassion and encouragement to forgive myself and provide me with the inspiration to continue forward with the good changes we’ve been able to make, no matter how difficult this journey has become. Moreover, it feels so good to know that while the project was not able to sustain all of its previous success, it’s still not a failed project.
On a #RunAPI run, I decided to run around my hood and explore. I didn’t know what to expect to see in the stores since it had been more than a month since my last visit to any of the stores. And while one does not sell produce anymore, two still do! And one still works with our team as a participant in our food coop program with partners. It was definitely in this moment that I realized that focusing on what didn’t work wasn’t helping and won’t change anything. Getting over feeling sorry for myself and using my energy to work on what needs to get done to get these stores and partners to the next step? That will help!
So is Fresh HiFi still fresh? I think it is! And moving forward with #TeamAPIOPA this year, I have set a professional (and personal) goal to achieve one goal set mutually between APIOPA and each Fresh HiFi partner by the end of 2016. So look forward to hearing more from me soon! 🙂