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New City Budget Item Approved for Healthy Market Conversions

Posted by Robert Baird, Food Systems & Land Use Policy Analyst on May 28th, 2015
Photo Credit: shutterstock

The growing role of corner stores in creating healthy food access was recognized by the LA City Council on March 27, when it updated its Consolidated Plan for federal grant expenditures to include a new funding source of $250,000 for the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network. The program, which is coordinated by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, organizes local store owners in food desert communities to capitalize on investment resources for offering healthier food selections and to sustain benefits from corner store conversions for the long-term. The work of the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network evolved from initial efforts by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to transform corner stores into access points for quality produce and staple foods and, despite lacking the financing capabilities of the now-dissolved CRA, has guided market conversions in multiple neighborhoods, including Alba Snacks & Services in South Los Angeles. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the Consolidated Plan will empower the program to maintain and scale the outreach efforts, business training, finance referrals and technical assistance services it provides to current and potential healthy market owners. The modest budget amount also represents a launching point for growing funding commitments by City agencies to address nutrition resource needs of underserved communities, which have languished following the dissolution of the CRA in 2012. Corner markets comprise 60% or more of the food retail landscape in many parts of South LA and East LA, and are the only grocery shopping option for many people who lack reliable car transportation.  Community Health Councils, Community Coalition and Groceryships were among the organizations that supported the program’s funding in the adopted plan.

For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Robert Baird at rbaird@chc-inc.org.