SOCIAL INTERPRISE REVIEW
Review of the article “The Role of Farmers’ Markets in Two Low Income, Urban Communities” reveals outcomes of a study specific to collecting consumer demographics in the East Loa Angles Farmers’ Market and South Los Angeles Watt Healthy Farmer’s Market. Both of the markets host local farmers’ produce in the direct focus to bring fresh and healthier foods to these two low income poverty areas of Los Angeles in an effort to provide education on healthier eating for intervention focus on the high rates of obesity and the causal factors of poor health and the associated co-morbidities common to being overweight.
The Watts Healthy Farmers’ Market program is a non-profit enterprise in alliance with the Kaiser Permanente continues growing with a widely diverse group of customers taking advantage of the 7-10 local farmers’ fruits and vegetable stands as well as various fresh food sources every Saturday. The Watts Healthy Farmers’ Market since its inception continues as a Los Angeles leader offering educational information for both the community covering healthy cooking practices and how to make educated food choices.
Weekly healthy cooking classes under the Pompea Smith Good Cooking/ Buena Cocina Nutrition Education Program engages participating shoppers with information about healthier spending of their CalFresh EBT card and WIC checks on their food budgets as` IN addition, the program offers consumers the Market Match doubling the amount of checks issued by the state on WIC for vegetable and fruit purchases CalFresh as much as $10 per day.
The transparent social good of this enterprise to deliver the South Los Angeles predominantly African American community of low income and poverty level residents plagued by obesity and the health issues associated with being overweight is what makes this project worthwhile. The community program adheres to its mission promoting social and cultural activities for this target community but also in supporting the small to mid-sized local farms as well as local small enterprises. The ongoing efforts to provide both the consumer and the vendors the opportunities as outlined above shows the positive earmarks of the project with no identifiable hindrances to growth. The research showed participants found the market providing education and access to the healthy foods needed to address the obesity issue of community residents.
East Los Angeles Farmers’ Market
The East Los Angeles Farmers Market has operated since 2006. As with the Watts located market the greater part of establishing this nonprofit enterprise intends building sustainable food systems directly as an intervention to East Los Angeles’ disproportionate numbers of it residents contracting diabetes. Further, the SELA program seeks to alleviate the conspicuous scarcity of fresh produce available in the area. In addition, the program addresses the waning economic realities creating a need for more business opportunities.
First District Supervisor Gloria Molina spearheaded the proactive stance she took in addressing these issues through creating and establishing the Farmers Market proving successful within a year of opening its doors to the community. Expansion of the East Los Angeles Farmers’ Market to two other low-income poverty unincorporated areas of the predominantly Hispanic communities of Los Angeles in 2008 under the VELAS (Volunteers of East Los Angeles) Farms like the original is nonprofit and now makes three locations offering access to local farmers’ high quality and fresh produce along with the business opportunities extended to the small California growers. The certified produce stands, along with vendors, and artisans continue to grow in participation.
Again the focus is to provide the East Los Angeles communities with health and wellness education programs on cooking and shopping choices for healthier lifestyles. As with the Watts enterprise the East Los Angeles locations are equipped to accept EBT If you are part of the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). The East Los Angeles Farmers’ Market program like the Watts’ is clearly a social enterprise targeting low-income and poverty level areas of the Los Angeles community. The fact it is subsidized by grants and donations does add a challenge for the political underpinnings of the support it gets due to the competitive nature of grant funding no matter the source. Volunteerism remains part of the fundamental approach to absorbing administration costs and has its own short comings and are less obvious. Accordingly, volunteers remain a vital part of the nonprofit sector and are notoriously inefficient, lacking in self-policing, and lacking in needed financing.
All characteristics not readily apparent/transparent and can prove disastrous to an organizations development and growth potential. Interestingly, according to one source maintaining volunteers in programs focusing on social issues proves challenging. The fact is volunteers tend to gravitate to cultural projects and venues including theatres, museums, and rarely in the low-income areas of cities. According to most grant funding for social programs such as the East Los Angeles Farmers’ Markets there are accountabilities. On the financial donations that is another issue and the IRS Form 990 listing donations to non-profit organizations such as the East Los Angeles Farmers’ Markets specifically excludes public access to this information other than private foundations and political organizations. Therefore, this organization makes it challenging to have access to annual reports on the finances of the administration of the enterprise. The identifiable social good the enterprise clearly shows in particular is the support it gives to local small businesses and to local growers as well as the education about healthy eating and access to the food to counter the diabetes issue in East Los Angeles.
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Dilger, Robert and Eugene Boyd. Block Grants: Perspectives and Controversies. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40486.pdf 2014.
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Ruelas, Valerie, Iverson, Ellen, Kiekel, Preston, and Ann Peters. “The Role of Farmers’ Markets in Two Low Income, Urban Communities.” J Community Health. 37:554– 562. 2012
Sustainable Economic Enterprise of Los Angeles. Financials. http://www.seela.org/mission/#sthash.YNdvW7sH.dpuf 2016
Volunteers in East Los Angeles. VELAS http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp596938.jsp 2016
Watts Healthy Farmers’ Market. Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SELA). http://www.seela.org/watts-farmers-market/. 2016