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Bringing Jobs and Fresh Food to South L.A.

Story on Kaiser Permanente's California Freshworks Program new market in South Los Angeles.

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Community residents, activists, civic leaders and Kaiser Permanente staff participated in a celebration Monday, April 14, when a new supermarket opened in a South Los Angeles neighborhood that had been an historic “food desert.” It had taken 17 years to bring the full-service market filled with fresh foods to the neighborhood.

Kaiser Permanente is a lead investor in the California FreshWorks Fund, a $272 million impact investing fund that provides loans and grants to grocers and other food enterprises to improve access to healthy food, spur economic development, and foster innovation in healthy food retailing. As a direct result of the Fund’s $50,000 workforce development grant, Northgate Gonzalez Market was able to reach out to the community to recruit and train employees to work in the full-service store, enabling them to earn a living wage with benefits. The supermarket opening created more than 130 jobs; of the initial new hires, more than 70 percent are residents from immediate South Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Kaiser Permanente has been dedicated to the mission of delivering affordable, high-quality care, and improving the health of our communities since 1945. It takes more than great medical care to achieve optimal health: Access to fresh fruits and vegetables, safe places to play and be active, and jobs and economic stability all contribute to the overall wellness of our communities.

Northgate Gonzalez Market is creating ways for its customers to be healthier via its “Viva la Salud” program, which helps shoppers identify healthier options on the shelves with clearly marked information. The store also offers demonstrations on how to prepare healthy meals as alternatives to high-fat, high-calorie processed convenience foods.

Angela Coron, Kaiser Permanente Southern California Community Benefit managing director, was in good company with other supporters during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, including former Gov. Gray Davis, U.S Congresswoman for California’s 40th District Lucille Roybal-Allard, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr., the Rev. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries, and Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad.

Coron told the audience that the store was the manifestation of the strong partnerships that came together to make the vision a reality. “We at Kaiser Permanente are guided by the goal of making the healthy choice the easy choice – and we applaud the Gonzalez family for their long-term, continued commitment to the health and prosperity of the neighborhoods they serve,” she said.