Food Day 2016 Good Food Champions Announced!

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This Food Day 2016, each Councilmember honored a Good Food Champion from their Council District. Good Food Champions are outstanding individuals or organizations working to bring Good Food – food which is healthy, affordable, sustainable and fair – to their community.

With Love Market and Cafe (CD 1)

The Market

In the Market at With Love, you will find a mix of local, organic, natural and delicious food and drinks. We do our best to select top quality, affordable products for our customers, making it easier for them to eat better, healthier, tastier food every day!

The Cafe

The With Love Cafe serves high-quality, single-origin coffee and tea, grab-n-go sandwiches and salads made on site, and many other delicious food and drink options. We have plenty of seating space, including an outdoor patio and a meeting room that is available for reservations. Come with homework, a good book, or a great friend and enjoy! Remember, when you buy With Love, you are supporting South LA. Let’s all live a healthier life and thrive together!

As a social enterprise, profits from our Cafe help to support Community Programs, local hiring (we commit to having 75% or more of our staff from the local community) and paying employees a living wage with benefits. This is all made possible through your support and patronage!

With Love Community Programs- A division of Compassion Creates Change

Our non-profit arm is called With Love Community Programs. A portion of the profits from the Market & Cafe will be reinvested into the community through Community Programs. A few of the many things we provide to the community are:

Educational & Exercise Classes

Our classes include topics such as diabetes prevention/intervention, food cooking demos, gardening and food growth, exercise groups, budgeting skills and tools, supporting your child’s education, and more! Be sure to check out our events calendar to stay updated on what we will be offering! Go to our events page to find out about upcoming classes.

Youth Internships

Utilizing local partnerships with schools, non-profits and churches, these internships will provide youth in our community with an opportunity to learn work skills and habits which will give them a foundation for their future working relationships and careers. Contact us for more information!

Community Educational Garden

Through partnerships with local non-profits, Big Citizens Hub and The Edible Apartment, we planted a garden on our back patio that is intended to be learning space for the local community. There will be classes giving youth and adults an opportunity to learn how to garden, grow food, honor and take care of the earth, and have a little fun seeing things come to life!

This is a lovely green space where there previously was only concrete, asphalt and barbed wire. We hope that residents of South LA, seeing life growing in the most unlikely places, will be inspired to dream about the change that they can make. Change that will help heal things that are broken, give life to someone forgotten, to create joy in making something whole

Domingo Mota- Winds of Hope in Sun Valley (CD 2)

In 2008, out of a sense of calling and a desire to help the community surrounding our church, we reached out to a couple of organizations to explore the possibilities of partnering in order to feed families in need. Unfortunately, our efforts did not succeed.

We patiently waited for two years and then in 2010 found out about an organization in The City of Bell that provided produce for churches and non-profit organizations for a considerable weekly administrative fee. We were very thankful to have found a new partner, and even more excited to know that our desire to meet this need would be fulfilled. In spite of the fact that the produce was not the freshest, the community was very thankful, and immediately took action to go through all the boxes to ensure that people were taking home the best possible produce. A sense of community started to build.

After noticing the beautiful and high-quality food that Pastor Domingo’s dad, Dodger Coach Manny Mota, was bringing by the house, he asked his dad where he got such fruit and if he thought the company would be willing to donate to the ministry. It happens that the company his dad was bringing the fruit from was a Dodger sponsor. Mr. Mota shared the company information with Pastor Domingo, who after eventually getting to the right person received the immediate and generous support of one of the company’s founder. Within a few days Pastor Domingo and some college students he mentored began heading down to the City of Vernon in a donated U-Haul truck to pick up beautiful and fresh produce. The choice and quality of the produce was quite noticeable. No longer did we have to go through each and every box to get rid of spoiled fruit and vegetables. This new produce was clean, fresh and did not require an administrative fee. One could see the joy in the faces of mostly older ladies who would show up as early as 7:00 am to ensure they secured a spot in line.

Thankfully, since starting this work of love, the ministry has never been short of produce. No one has ever left without a bag or box of fresh fruit and vegetables. Beyond the distribution of fruit, this effort has helped build a greater sense of unity and ownership in the community, and has also led to a series of meaningful community building initiatives. The ministry does not charge for the produce but asks recipients to lovingly donate whatever is within their means to help with the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance. The community has also organized annual fundraisers to help cover the expensive vehicle registration fee. Beyond the fruit, this ministry has also served to encourage residents to lead healthier and more active lifestyles, and to grow in their connection with God, one another and earth.

Prince of Peace Church (CD 3)

Prince of Peace Church has supported feeding the hungry in the West San Fernando Valley, since it was founded 1959.  For the first twenty or so years, it, like so many other religious institutions did it on limited bases and with what parishioners donated.

In 1980, the pastor of the church, the church secretary and one of the parishioners recognized that there would be power in gathering the religious community together and pool their resources.  Eleven churches and temples joined together that year, formed a coalition and called it the West Valley Food Pantry.  Prince of Peace Church continues to be the host site for the Pantry and house all the needed items both donated and purchased. Thanks to the church, the Pantry has grown to the point where it now provides food for approximately 3,000 people a month.

In addition, the church has a large community vegetable garden and an orchard of 125 fruit trees.  ALL of this food is grown, gathered, and distributed through the West Valley Food Pantry and makes a huge difference in the West San Fernando Valley.

The church also hosts a healthy and hearty community dinner for the homeless and hungry on the second and forth Saturday night as well as a bag luncheon on the 3rd Saturday of the month.

Prince of Peace is proud of its commitment to help the poor and hungry in the Valley.

Rich Armas, Market Manager, Toluca Lake Farmers Market (CD 4)

I am a hard working individual that works pretty much 7 days a week. I am a manager at Toluca Lake Farmers Market on Sundays. During the week I am also a vendor. I help out one of my amazing vendors sell organic fruit at Northridge Farmer’s Market, Monrovia Farmer’s Market, and North Hollywood Farmers Market. On my free days, I work for a the Ramsey Shilling Real Estate. Although I am not technically an agent, I am still getting the training I need until I pass my state exam. I also work a little bit of construction when I am available and spend a lot of time helping my family and friends. Between doing all of that, I manage to make it out to other markets to recruit new vendors. I make sure to call and meet with new vendors and people that are interested in what I am doing for the community, like Toluca Lake city council members and plan events that would benefit both the community and the market. I am a people person and love meeting new and interesting individuals. On my free time, if I have any, I love producing music, skateboarding, and collecting awesome and rare collectibles.

Motor Avenue Improvement Association (CD 5)

The Motor Avenue Improvement Association seeks to improve the quality of life for its members and the Motor community by assertively promoting the community’s interests and facilitating community services and programs.

The Motor Avenue Improvement Association’s Farmers Market and Urban Garden Network has been successful in bringing local produce, food education, public open space and a sense of community to Palms, one of the densest neighborhoods in Los Angeles and top dozen in the  United States. Recently Palms was ranked by the New York Times as one of the top ten places for young people to live but outdoor recreational space is severely limited.

Every Sunday, rain or shine, we hold our Farmers Market at the corner of Motor Ave and National Boulevard. This public outdoor neighborhood space provides our community with not only open space to congregate and build a sense of community but provides access to fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, crafts, nutrition education, yoga, children’s activities, live music and more. Without our Farmers Market once a week, this community would be what’s called a “food desert”, meaning access to healthy, nutritious and local food is unavailable. 

Elliott Kuhn of Cottonwood Farms (CD 6)

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Elliott Kuhn began his professional career as a public school teacher. After leaving teaching in 2010, and a short stint on a few large scale organic farms, he found his way home and began working with local non profits focussed on environmental education. In the winter of 2012, with help of several friends he began converting a dusty, vacant plot in Panorama City into a highly productive urban farm. Built on the alluvial fan of the Tujunga Wash, Cottonwood Urban Farm (CUF) uses creative growing techniques to cultivate a variety of year round vegetables, fruits and herbs. CUF’s main focus is the cross section between food, community, and education.

Marie-Alise de Marco, Market Manager for Baldwin Park Crenshaw Farmers Market  (CD 8)

After a successful career as an actor in film, TV and stage, Marie-Alise Recasner de Marco returned to her family’s community of South Los Angeles where she purchased a home with her husband in 2009. She became active in food justice with Community Health Councils, became a founding member of SoLA Food Co-op, helped to create and Co-Chairs Seeds of Carver Urban Farm Collective, and became manager of SEELA’s Crenshaw Farmers’ Market in January 2013. In that time, Marie-Alise began publishing a weekly newsletter, worked to bring more farmers into the market, “curated” the food court to reflect healthier options, opened the market to 38 different non-profits and community organizations, and lobbied to bring Market Match online at the market six months earlier than scheduled. Not only has market attendance vastly increased, but community members know that the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Farmers’ Market belongs to them. Marie-Alise feels that she is an advocate for her community and for her farmers, and is always on the lookout for more farmers, including urban backyard farmers. In fact her latest focus is “growing farmers”, by helping urban backyard gardeners become certified to sell in the SEELA family of farmers’ markets. She truly believes that “Food Access Equals Community Success”

Brotherhood Crusade (CD 9)

The Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade has been an integral partner in the city of Los Angeles’ movement to improve the culture of health in all of its communities, with an emphasis on Districts 9 and 8.  Overwhelming research continues to demonstrate that the link between good nutrition and healthy weight, reduced chronic disease risk, and overall health is too important to ignore. Therefore, the emphasis of Brotherhood Crusade’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention (NEOP) Initiative is to help District 9 and 8 residents understand that by making smart food choices, they can help protect themselves from health problems such as heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.

The following shares some of the initiative’s successes between January 2015 and June 2016.     

Healthy Celebrations

The Brotherhood Crusade NEOP Team set out to assist organizations and systems to implement a healthy celebration policy for sponsored events and activities that draw a large number of community members, families and youth.  Ultimately, the policies will serve as models for other organizations and entities hosting similar events and activities such that these entities will adopt and implement similar policy.

As a significant result of this work, “healthy celebrations” policies that mandate organizations provide reasonably healthy options at all community celebrations were adopted for the following events: Healthy Halloween; Navidad en el Barrio; Back to School; Books and Basketball Camp; and Taste of Soul. Accordingly, these policies have impacted more than 350,000 individuals annually.

Market Makeover

The Brotherhood Crusade NEOP youth team worked with EL Pueblo Market located directly across the street from Barack Obama Global Preparatory Middle School to complete a market makeover.  The team posited that it could improve healthy product placement, healthy food and beverage signage and the offering of fresh produce in the market.  Ultimately, the team sought to decrease consumption of unhealthy food and beverages within the South Los Angeles community.

In less than one year, the youth have partnered with the market’s owner to procure a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, add more appealing signage to produce, and remove advertising for unhealthy snacks by procuring aesthetically pleasing murals.  A video depiction of this work can be viewed by accessing the following link:

Joint-Use Agreements

The Brotherhood Crusade NEOP team set out to collaborate with Los Angeles Unified School District (with an emphasis on Beyond the Bell and individual district schools in South Los Angeles) and the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department to facilitate the joint use of recreational, gardening and cooking facilities at LAUSD school sites as permitted through joint use agreements.

As a significant result, Brotherhood Crusade has executed joint use agreements with Angeles Mesa Elementary School, 54th Street Elementary School, 59th Street Elementary School, Menlo Elementary School, Budlong Elementary School, 52nd Elementary School, Danny Bakewell Sr. Primary School, Mount Caramel Park, Markham Middle School, and the Expo Center Audubon Middle School, Manchester Elementary School, Augustus Hawkins High School, Duke Ellington High School, Crenshaw High School and Washington High School.  Moreover, the organization gifted Algin Sutton LA Galaxy Field, a $750,000 soccer field, to the city of Los Angeles and provides or facilitates 5-day per week physical activity programming, like Soccer For Success, through a long-term joint use agreement.

Additional Accomplishments in District 9 and 8 Communities:

Brotherhood Crusade has clearly effectuated policy, systems and environmental change through its healthy celebrations, joint use agreement and market-makeover initiatives.  Significantly, more than 350,000 South Los Angeles residents have meaningfully been introduced to nutrition education experiences (healthy cooking, healthy cookbooks, healthy food demonstrations, etc.) that promote the importance of physical activity, water consumption and creating greater access to healthier foods.  Moreover, a documented 2,500 residents have directly benefitted from and are engaged on a regular basis in highly-structured, intentional physical activity and nutrition education programming.  Most notably, however, Brotherhood Crusade’s NEOP efforts have laid the foundation (through model programming and joint use agreements that facilitate sustainability) to impact more than 700,000 LAUSD students and their families.  Indeed, this work represents a significant accomplishment for Districts 9 and 8.

Hector Aquino, Vees Cafe (CD 10)

Hector Aquino was born and raised in Mexico City. Aquino immigrated to the Unites States almost 20 years ago and one of his first jobs was as a sandwich maker at a fast food restaurant in Los Angeles. After working at many restaurants, coffee shops and fast food spots he welcomed the opportunity to open his own restaurant. In the early 2008, he was the main architect behind this concept that he developed after all of his experience in the food industry. Aquino loves and lives in the food industry and as the years goes by he has created many business opportunities for those who are willing to succeed. His focus as the CEO at Vees Café LLC is to open more stores that serve healthy and organic food. Aquino has embraced that concept since they opened their first store, he has assumed that position ever since and have stayed on that path. As a business partners they have welcome new ideas but remain focus on their goal by not just employing over 40 staff but integrating some of them as partners.

American Friends Services Committee (CD 11)

Roots for Peace

Roots for Peace Initiated in 2009 by a group of High School Students who believed that growing a garden was an important step towards building peace and justice in their neighborhood… The American Friends Service Committee’s Roots for Peace program works with residents and partners to fight for food access and community health in local neighborhoods. Working primarily in Historic South Central and the Mar Vista Gardens public housing complex, the program coordinates two Food Growers Networks and a youth internship program. Food Growers Network members receive culturally relevant urban agriculture trainings, lead community gardens, organize events that build community resiliency, share healthy food recipes, and are leading long term food access initiatives; including the development of a micro farm in South Los Angeles and the right to grow food in public housing in the City of Los Angeles. Youth intern’s builds awareness around food justice and intersectional issues through storytelling, community-based research, event organizing, and art-making.

Mar Vista Gardens 2016

A cohort of sixteen Mar Vista Gardens residents participated in a year-long urban agriculture training. Residents are using their skills to support a vibrant and productive community garden in the housing complex. The garden serves as a hub for healthy food production, recipe sharing, and community building. The residents are eager to support more residents in the housing complex to grow food in their personal gardens.

Karen Mariglia, Pick Leader for Food Forward (CD 12)

Karen Mariglia began working with Food Forward in October 2014 after retiring from the Cal. State University, Northridge Athletics Department. Karen was the first volunteer to receive the “Triple Crown” award given to volunteers who participate in all 3 volunteer roles with Food Forward: A Pick Leader at fruit harvests, Glean Team Leader at Farmers Markets, Community Ambassador at volunteer fairs and outreach events.

So far this quarter, Karen has led 27 picks, helped harvest over 5,400 pounds of produce, represented Food Forward at schools, fairs, and public events, and served monthly as a market glean leader.

Ileene Parker, Director of Operations for Valley Interfaith Council (CD 12)

Ileene Parker was taught at a young age by her parents and her faith that she must do what she can to help others in need. She began volunteering in 1978, packing Brown Bag Lunches on Sunday’s for L.A. Family Housing Shelter. For over 27 years, Ileene worked as a volunteer at the Sepulveda United Methodist Church Homeless Hot Breakfast Program during which time she simultaneously volunteered with Valley Interfaith Council (VIC) during the Church World Service CROP Hunger Walk.

From 1994 to 2013, Ileene became VIC’s Liaison to the VIC Food Pantry Coalition and in 1995 she was a founding member of the Emergency Network Los Angeles (ENLA) where she served on the Food & Transportation Committee until 2002. For 10 years, she served as a United Methodist Cal-Pacific Conference Hunger Task Force Committee Member. Since 2005, she has been Council District 12’s Citrus Sunday Committee member where she has assisted in providing hundreds of thousands pounds of free fresh citrus fruit to community food pantries in the San Fernando Valley.

Joshua Jose, Owner-Operator, Tribal Cafe (CD 13)

Tribal Café Health Bar is a “Greens & Grains, Fruits & Proteins Joint.” They offer fresh, easily-prepared plant-rich whole foods that are nutrient-dense, delicious, affordable and life-enhancing. They serve their healthy food as a bowl, salad, wrap, sandwich or a green smoothie meal replacement. They have been in operation for 11 years and are located on Temple St., between Alvarado & Glendale Blvd, right in the heart of the Historic Filipino Town.

A virtual food desert, Los Angeles is saturated with convenience stores, fast food and trendy restaurants offering foods high in fat, starches, sugar and sodium—major components that are contributing to the epidemic of diabetes and other chronic diseases in our community.  Tribal Café Health Bar is excited and energized to participate in the efforts of health-oriented food establishments, concerned citizens, agencies and policy makers to provide easy access to affordable meals with more fresh fruits and vegetables that the body truly needs for health and our well-being.

Malaquias Vazquez, Owner of El Vaquero restaurant in El Sereno (CD 14)

Owner Malaquias Vazquez opened El Vaquero restaurant in El Sereno in August 2003 and has been a resident of El Sereno since 1983. This is a family restaurant and with the help of his wife and 3 children it has become one of the best Mexican restaurants in CD14. Mr. and Mrs. Vazquez cook from recipes from their native Jalisco, Mexico and the house specialty is Tortas Ahogadas, a crusty roll filled with carnitas and drowned in red salsa.

El Vaquero restaurant has become a favorite in the El Sereno community not only for their delicious mexican food but for their generosity, always donating food to a variety of causes and events in the community. Earlier this year El Vaquero joined a list of participating restaurants who offer their same popular dishes in multiple serving sizes to give their customers the choice of healthier, smaller portions. Restaurants with kids’ meals’ now automatically come with a side of fruit or vegetables, have removed sugary beverages, and have reduced the number of deep-fried foods. El Vaquero is the only participating restaurant in El Sereno because they want to help the community families stay healthy and provide other options which no other restaurant does.

CHLA Kids is a program partnering with Los Angeles Department of Public Health working to prevent and control chronic diseases. El Vaquero will be the only restaurant in El Sereno joining the movement by promoting healthier meal choices and offering smaller portions from their existing menu. El Vaquero was recognized earlier year, in April, for their efforts in making a difference in the El Sereno community.

Loco’L (CD 15)

LocoL is the whole idea of local but loco to change. Local meaning family and caring for each other and the world. Loco for not taking the shit that’s being passed down and perpetuated on us. It’s this push and pull of honesty, love, and revolt.

It’s delicious food that crosses all cultural boundaries, that represents what America is now. Tasty, healthful, made from whole foods, good ingredients, principles of sustainability.

We see it as a gathering place which everyone can use in a different way, and where everyone can feel comfortable. We can create workshops and bring in instructors to use the spaces as classrooms for yoga, meditation, art, wellness. Pay our staff good and treat them well. Create a culture of hospitality and caring in everyone who works there. Work with young artists to create kids toys but also to spread culture through their art. Really good lighting. Great music.

We will open in upscale malls and next to highways, in downtowns and trendy neighborhoods. But what will change everything is that we will also open in the inner city areas where there are only big corporate chains, places where you will never see real food or high quality operators.

Delicious food for everyone. That’s the revolution.