live Winner / 2019
La Troka — Mobile Garden and Culinary Arts Program
LA Troka takes health, nutrition, and urban gardening education to the streets of LA. Visiting schools, libraries, and other community centers and festivals in under-resourced neighborhoods, La Troka’s multi-sensory workshops empower young people by teaching them about gardening and how to prepare affordable, wholesome meals. Focusing on Latino-inspired cuisine, LA Troka encourages cultural exploration and connection and helps get children and families on the road to a healthy lifestyle.
What does your organization do?
LA Plaza is the hub of Latino culture and the only museum in L.A. dedicated to celebrating and preserving the history and many contributions of Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and all Latinos in L.A.
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
Latino roots are embedded in the fabric of Los Angeles. They are essential to understanding the city’s culture. Yet, even with a significant Latino population (48% of Los Angeles County residents), there was previously no museum to trace their history and celebrate their contributions to Southern California.
LA Plaza opened to the public in 2011 to fill this void and we remain the only institution in the region that combines and honors Latino culture, art, and history. Our mission resonated with the local community and we have turned that original inspiration into growing impact. In 2018, LA Plaza welcomed more than 110,000 visitors (an increase from 95,000 in 2017). Services have also expanded from 15 community programs and events in 2011 to more than 85 last year. We are an admission-free museum and provide quality programming, elevating and celebrating LA’s rich Latino culture and heritage. In 2018, we served more than 8,000 school aged children through our free garden and culinary educational workshops. These children frequently bring their families back to attend our five annual Family Day events, visiting our exhibitions, enjoying live music and participating in garden, culinary and art workshops. Earlier this year, the Coronel family made it a point to bring photos to our Family Day event of their 2rd grade son carrying out a “healthy tostadas” recipe he’d learned in one of our workshops. Other participants in the program have expressed the joy of eating a tomato for the first time. These are a few examples of how our workshops an impact long after they have been carried out.
In 2017, the Garden and Culinary program was recognized for excellence in museum education with the California State Superintendent’s Award by the California Association of Museums.
Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?
- Access to healthy food
- Obesity rates
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
How will your project make LA the best place to live?
La Troka is a mobile expansion of LA Plaza’s established and popular eight-year-old on-site garden and culinary arts program. It enables our organization to bring these meaningful workshops directly to the people who will benefit most or may not be able to visit LA Plaza due to travel barriers and other burdens. Our two-person mobile unit visits local schools, libraries, community centers, festivals, and other venues and activities throughout Los Angeles County. A few of this year’s events are a two-day activation at the LA County Fairplex’s Extreme STEA2M event, Downtown LA Public Library’s Mobile Museum Fair and Telemundo 52 Los Angeles Health Expo, “La Feria de la Salud”.
While at these locations and events, LA Plaza invites community members to join us for free workshops. These active and hands-on sessions teach families about urban gardening, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, healthy choices beyond the mobile experience, and the historical and cultural ties to food like corn, amaranth and tomatoes. Empowering our community with this history and the ability to understand, appreciate, and cook healthy food is an invaluable gift and a foundation on which to build life-long health. Additionally, the program has a multiplier impact as lessons are carried home and shared with other family members, creating a chain reaction of behavior changes in whole families and the wider Los Angeles community.
La Troka predominantly serves low-income Latino families in Los Angeles County. This is a particularly important population to reach because research shows that minority youth, especially those living in poverty, are at the highest risk of developing unhealthy habits that can derail their aspirations and futures.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
La Troka’s overarching program goals are to:
Inspire and educate individuals about healthy eating, urban gardening and Latino culture reaching a minimum of 10,000 people annually;
Increase families’ awareness of nutrition, culinary preparation, and the culture and history of produce;
Cultivate an organic gardening environment in communities and hosting institutions
We will measure the degree to which we achieve these goals, and therefore program success, through pre- and post-assessments of participants and through increasing participation in events throughout the city. We plan to activate LA Troka a minimum four days a week.