Nutrition initiative launched in Hollywood Promise Zone

LOS ANGELES — City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell joined the Youth Policy Institute and Vons Supermarket Dec. 1 to launch the Los Angeles Promise Zone Food Insecurity Nutrition Initiative.

The program is designed to increase access to affordable, healthy, locally grown produce for low-income residents who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California.

“Fresh, nutritious, and locally sourced food options make for healthy families and healthy communities,” O’Farrell said. “I have a record on the City Council of improving access to better food options, and I am pleased to be part of this announcement with Youth Policy Institute and Vons to help people at a financial disadvantage purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at designated markets.

“I commend both organizations for partnering to help families put healthy food on the table at lower costs.”

Improving health and increasing access to locally grown, fresh produce are critical pieces of the Los Angeles Promise Zone strategy, which also include efforts to improve education, develop the workforce, preserve affordable housing and make communities safer. The Promise Zone is President Barack Obama’s signature anti-poverty initiative.

“The goal of the Promise Zone is to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and that effort can start with something as simple as a nutritious meal,” said Dixon Slingerland, president and CEO of the Youth Policy Institute. “Our partnership with Vons and Pavilions helps make fresh foods at the market more accessible to families, and this program will spur the development of healthier communities across the Promise Zone.”

The program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will include an incentive program designed to encourage SNAP recipients to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption.

For every dollar participants spend on fresh fruits and vegetables (using their EBT card), they can purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables with the use of $5 Vons and Pavilions vouchers, for up to $100 in purchases per month.

“Part of being the neighborhood grocer means being a good steward and doing the right thing for our communities,” Vons and Pavilions Area Vice President Stephen Cech said. “We are fully committed to this partnership with YPI and look forward to helping the participating families as they commit themselves to live healthier lives.”

Three Los Angeles Vons stores and one Pavilions have been selected as partner locations for the program. The grocery chain will be working with YPI to track ongoing changes in fruit and vegetable consumption among participants, which they hope will ultimately lead to long-term positive changes in eating habits and health outcomes.

“I am excited to start the Vons voucher program. I taught my children to eat healthy from an early age but now eating healthy is costing me more money,” said Marcela Baltazar, a mother of three who lives in East Hollywood. “By participating in the Vons voucher program, I’ll be able to use the extra monthly $50 to help my family budget for my growing kids and hard-working husband.”


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