create / 2014

With Love Market and Cafe: bringing healthy food jobs and community to Southwest LA

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by With Love Market and Cafe, With Love Community Market and Cafe

We provide local and organic food products, a café featuring healthy prepared items, & a space to encourage Southwest LA pride & artistry.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

We provide local and organic food products, a café featuring healthy prepared items, & a space to encourage Southwest LA pride & artistry.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Southwest LA i.e. the northern section of South LA near USC

What is your idea/project in more detail?

  • The Market carries fresh and healthy foods from local sources, rare commodities in Southwest LA. The market also features home-cooked foods produced by local residents.
  • The café offers fair-trade coffee, teas, and other drinks in an ambient atmosphere where residents can come to eat, socialize, and relax. -The store provides jobs, internships & improvement classes for locals, store employees and suppliers.
  • Store profits will be reinvested into the community via training, educating, employment & more.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We have already secured a leased space for the market, cafe, and our offices to be located, have a staff team who are finishing the market and cafe’s product assortment via confirmations from local farmers/producers, and distributors. We also have a team of graphic and architect designers finishing the store and cafe’s interior and exterior design. We continue to establish and further connections with other community groups/organizations, and are strategically outreaching to the community to fill various employment roles.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

The goal of With Love Market and Cafe is to create a successful and empowering model for addressing the Southwest LA’s need for food access and employment opportunities in the urban context. Our vision is that if we are able to replicate this business model throughout greater Los Angeles, there should be a significant impact on the amount of support given to local producers and infrastructure for increasing food access across LA county.

Whom will your project benefit?

The project is currently seeking to serve the roughly 100,000 residents within the 5 square mile radius surrounding the location of the market and cafe. Of this population, 55% of residents are latino, 20% are African American, 15% are Asian, and the rest are white or other. Our main focus is to serve the families that live in the area. Within the past 3 years, this 5 square radius area has lost 3 or its 6 full-service grocery stores, making it harder for families and residents to access groceries on a regular basis.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Two major confirmed collaborators are LA Kitchen and Homeboy Industries:

Our factors for success with LA Kitchen include:

  • Co-purchasing and sourcing our local produce together
  • Hiring chefs that LA Kitchen trains through their programs for our market and cafe’s prepared food assortment.
  • Hiring people from LA Kitchen to do food prep for the Market and Cafe

Our factors for success with Homeboy Industries includes:

  • Hiring individuals that Homeboy trains through their programs
  • Sourcing some products from Homeboy
  • Use Homeboy as a resource for employing members coming out of their programs

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Jobs per capita
  • Gini coefficient
  • Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

1.) The local rate of diabetes: - Diabetes is 3.8 times the average rate of diabetes in the greater LA area, and so concentrating on providing healthier options for this community is an area we are seeking to monitor alongside our non-profit partners.

2.) Decreasing government assistance: During our surveying of the community, 1/5 of residents were on government assistance for food, with an average of $225 per month. Our current initial goal is to have 50% of our hired staff be from the surrounding neighborhood and community, with that percentage increasing to 75% by the end of the market’s first year in business.

3.) Community Needs: Our free weekly community classes and events will serve to provide residents with a sense of pride, community, and betterment for their families in the way of health and personal/relational skill-building. We are looking to keep track of all members, volunteer, staff and otherwise, who engage in our programs and seek to be further involved. We plan on keeping track of our volunteer, outreach and participant base to see how networking and sense of community increases in the surrounding area.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

1.) The local rate of diabetes: - Diabetes is 3.8 times the average rate of diabetes in the greater LA area, and so concentrating on providing healthier options for this community is an area we are seeking to monitor alongside our non-profit partners.

2.) Decreasing government assistance: During our surveying of the community, 1/5 of residents were on government assistance for food, with an average of $225 per month. Our current initial goal is to have 50% of our hired staff be from the surrounding neighborhood and community, with that percentage increasing to 75% by the end of the market’s first year in business.

3.) Community Needs: Our free weekly community classes and events will serve to provide residents with a sense of pride, community, and betterment for their families in the way of health and personal/relational skill-building. We are looking to keep track of all members, volunteer, staff and otherwise, who engage in our programs and seek to be further involved. We plan on keeping track of our volunteer, outreach and participant base to see how networking and sense of community increases in the surrounding area.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

1.) Learning about the connection between diabetes and poor eating to performance in schools. We want to focus on prevention rather than intervention in this area, which has contributed to our overall vision of affordable healthy food products for purchase in combination with free regular classes for nutrition education, tutoring etc.

2.) We have learned from various forms of international aid that certain structures do not work to rebuild an economy, but rather keep them in a state of poverty. However, strategies of support such as the microloan market has proven to transform economies. Being aware of this, we want to be a group that is empowering rather than just giving aid, so that the South LA economy can itself be transformed by the many capable residents who live here.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Between now and our opening day, we are waiting to receive approval from the bank for funding, which should happen in next 2 months. We have our lease in space, and are waiting on city approvals for construction and to build it out. We have the staff and structure in place for opening day, and currently we are on track to open within the next 3-6 months. We also have a great deal of community support!

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

  1. Funding: we have the location, staff, food sources, and local interest already and have started our renovation processes for the space. The challenge is finding funding for the remaining portion of our startup costs. We have already raised $100,000 through our crowdfunding campaign and are actively seeking grants and loans to cover the remainder.

  2. Local food culture: because of food injustice, local residents are inured to the effects of poor eating habits on their health. Many of these eating habits are now ingrained into their behavior, especially since fast food often costs less than fresh groceries. We are responding to this by tapping into the deep desires of household heads to see their families live healthy fulfilling lives. Our initial interactions with locals has shown us that the problem lies not with interest (studies show that low-income residents are just as likely to purchase local and organic, provided it is affordable) but with availability.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Community outreach