Healthy Neighborhood Market Network:
Empowering Neighborhood Market Owners To Become Healthy Food Retailers
Christine Tran, Executive Director, LA Food Policy Council
What is the LA Food Policy Council, its mission, and your role?
The Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) works to ensure food is healthy, affordable, fair, and sustainable for all. We believe Good Food for All is possible and that all communities deserve access to good food, grown in a way that respects people and the planet. We work to create a local food system free from hunger, rooted in equity and access, supportive of farmers and food workers, and guided by principles of environmental stewardship and regeneration. To accomplish our vision of Good Food for All, we catalyze, coordinate, and connect people across the LA region, including government, business and community groups working on food.
As the Executive Director of LAFPC, I oversee a network of over 400 organizations and agencies working for healthy, sustainable, and fair food.
What is the Healthy Neighborhoods Market Network? How does it work? How does it support LAFPC’s mission?
Within our mission, the Healthy Neighborhoods Market Network (HNMN) empowers small business owners in low-income neighborhoods to bring good food to their communities. Our program aims to ensure that everyone can access fresh produce within a half a mile of their residence. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the work we do and why our goal is so important.
Los Angeles is home to 1,300 small markets. Imagine if they all provided healthy food options! Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have 3 times as many small markets than more affluent and white neighborhoods. On average, they also have half as many full-service grocery stores. Limited retail options mean residents in lower income areas have less options for a healthy diet.
By working with store owners to champion healthy food access, we support community vitality and economic development. Store owners receive training, guidance, and upgrades to their stores- transforming them into beacons of healthy, affordable food. As a result, communities have more options for living a healthy life. This also improves community-level supply chains and are natural connections for a more localized food system between local growers and producers.
Are there opportunities to expand the locations and partnerships of this program?
There is definitely an opportunity to expand this program across LA County, both in terms of locations and services. We’d develop a coordinated suite of programs that would be located in the healthy neighborhood markets, such as providing nutrition education, implementing a cooperative purchasing model that connects local agricultural suppliers, and providing technological tools to support more efficient ordering and sourcing. Multiple partners could be engaged in this effort, each playing a role across the county. Specifically, we have received numerous inquiries from small business owners and community members in unincorporated areas that see the benefit of our work.
In October 2022, the HNMN was internationally recognized along with the City of Los Angeles by the Milan Urban Policy Pact, an international agreement on urban food policies signed by over 200 cities from all over the world. We were recognized as a special mention together with Melbourne (Australia), Wrocław (Poland), and Rourkela (India) in the category of Social & Economic Equity.
To learn more about the LAFPC’s Healthy Neighborhood Market Network visit: www.goodfoodla.org/healthyneighborhoodmarketnetwork