Thousands of families across California will soon have easier access to essential foods for a healthy life as the result of grants awarded by The California FreshWorks Fund (CFWF), administered by NCB Capital Impact. The $105,100 in grants are designed to create new access to healthy foods, and are awarded to: The Community Development Foundation of Los Angeles County in North Long Beach; Heritage Education Group in Compton; and Mandela Marketplace in West Oakland.
“Kaiser Permanente is proud to be a founding member of the California FreshWorks Fund,” said Benjamin Chu, MD, MPH, MACP, group president for Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. “This grant demonstrates our commitment to total health by supporting environmental changes that improve the health of the communities we serve, making the healthier choice an easier choice.”
The California FreshWorks Fund is a loan and grant fund that has raised $264 million to invest in bringing grocery stores and other healthy food retail to underserved communities. CFWF grants are funded with the support of Kaiser Permanente and The California Endowment.
“Today, more than one million California residents need to drive over 20 minutes from their homes to buy fresh produce, and most don’t or can’t do it,” said Scott Sporte, chief lending officer at NCB Capital Impact. “These investments build on innovative healthy eating initiatives and will help more families shop closer to home for foods that can help them live healthier, happier lives.”
The Community Development Foundation of Los Angeles County (CDF) was granted funds to support the planning and launch of a year-round, weekly farmer’s market that will serve thousands of residents of the Carmelitos Public Housing Project and the surrounding community of North Long Beach.
“The FreshWorks Fund grant will help make it possible for 2,000 residents of the Carmelitos community, and surrounding North Long Beach area, to walk just steps from their homes to purchase fresh tomatoes, squash and other locally grown produce,” said Jennifer N. Blackwell-Trotter, executive director of the Community Development Foundation. “Additionally, all farmers and the market manager will be hired locally.”
CDF will use the FreshWorks Fund grant to obtain expert feasibility analysis and consulting services for the initial launch scheduled for late summer 2012. Additionally, funds will be used to purchase supplies and complete training and marketing activities.
Based on farmer’s markets in low-income communities in East Los Angeles, Whittier and South Whittier, the proposed market will include cooking and nutrition programming, and accept non-traditional forms of payment, such as EBT, Farmers Market Nutrition Program WIC and senior vouchers.
The Heritage Education Group (HEG) received a grant to support a portion of start up costs for a year-round farmer’s market in Compton, Los Angeles County. The market will be held on the grounds of Davis Middle School. HEG has a proven track record running successful farmer’s markets in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in the Inland Empire, and has created a unique voucher program that increases the purchasing power of low-income families for local, fresh produce.
The Compton market will partner with the Compton Unified School District, which is working with HEG to make healthy foods more available to its students, families and the surrounding community.
“Funding and partnering with the FreshWorks Fund, provides small organizations such as the Heritage Education Group opportunities to do the greatest good for our communities in need. Simply put, it allows us to feed our people,” said Bing Turner, co-founder and board chairman of Heritage Education Group.
A third award was made to Mandela Marketplace to support a comprehensive business analysis of its operations and potential expansion for the Mandela Food Cooperative (MFC), a worker-owned fresh food store. MFC is the first retail outlet of any kind to focus on offering healthy food in West Oakland, and Mandela Marketplace is working to develop local wealth and alternative direct-from-farmer food supply chains.
Mandela Marketplace is one of two organizations focused on developing healthy food retail in West Oakland; the other is People’s Community Market. CFWF provided a grant to People’s Community Market to support its development of a 12,000-s.f., small-format fresh food store in February.
In the featured photo at top: Workers and owners outside their Mandela Food Cooperative, a worker-owned fresh food store.