DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A corner market in downtown Los Angeles celebrated its grand reopening Thursday with a renewed focus on providing healthy food options for those in the community with help from the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.
Luz Arango grew up working in her mother Lupita’s market on the corner of 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles’s Westlake District for the past 27 years.
“Back in the day, small markets in the neighborhoods in Los Angeles were actually the primary markets for a lot of customers,” Arango said. “Typically, back in the day, we would have all of our chips and sodas in the front.”
But two years ago when Lupita was ready to retire, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council offered Arango an opportunity to make a difference in her community.
“They walked into our doors and said, ‘Hey, would you like to have some education? You are technically in a food desert.’”
The Council is a nonprofit agency that supports small markets and businesses in becoming healthier food vendors in their communities that often lack grocery stores.
After Arango took part in classes, the Council awarded her with a market makeover that allowed her to carry on a healthier version of her mother’s legacy.
“I get to keep the history of my mother and the sign, which is Lupita’s Corner,” she said. “Life gets expensive, things get expensive and you can only sustain for so long.”
The renovation design and labor was provided pro bono by Gensler and Build Group SoCal. Arango raised money for the materials through a GoFundMe page.
“I truly believe that we all deserve to eat better,” she said.
Arango said she looks forward to providing kids from neighboring schools and employees from Good Samaritan Hospital and local families the option to have healthier beverages, prepared foods and affordable fresh produce.
“Everyone deserves to have accessibility to healthier food, not just people who can afford it,” she said.
The market reopened Thursday and is now a CalFresh vendor.