live / 2021
A WOC-Owned Healing Space for Equitable & Sustainable Health on the Eastside
Todo Verde, in collaboration with People’s Yoga, is opening a community-powered studio for wellness, learning, & production in East LA. Our studio will serve as an accessible space for culturally-relevant skills-sharing through the practice of yoga & healthy eating, & provide job opportunities as a site of production for Todo Verde’s plant-based packaged food goods. Featuring both virtual & in-person initiatives, our community center will host culinary demonstrations & yoga programs as tools to reclaim & reimagine community wellness & economy.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- East LA
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
In LA, low income communities of color have limited access to both healthy, nutritious food as well as well-resourced healthcare & alternative wellness. Lack of access to good food plagues neighborhoods throughout the Eastside of LA with preventable diseases that diminish quality of life & prematurely kill us with cancer, diabetes, & more. In addition to facing severe health disparities, our community also faces barriers to economic resources & have experienced a rise in mental health issues like depression & PTSD related to a volatile political climate. These problems aren’t currently addressed with adequate financial or cultural resources. Todo Verde & People’s Yoga were founded by women of color from Eastside communities in response to intimate lived experience with the scope of these issues. Our work stems from the narratives that underlie the data: in 2015 only 53% of East LA residents lived in close proximity to a grocery store & 33% reported difficulty accessing healthcare.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Todo Verde’s work is to create lifestyle shifts within the Latinx community, guiding us towards enjoying healthier ingredients in a new way while enjoying recipes that we know & love. When our culturally-relevant plant-based dishes are introduced to new clients, we often hear them say “if I could eat this way everyday, I would go vegan!” This is the shift we are working to create through sharing affordable meals, accessible recipes & ancestral knowledge grounded in decolonizing foodways. Our culinary programs will address access to healthy food by facilitating hands-on cooking classes preparing nutritious recipes & hosting inclusive dialogues around food justice. These programs are designed to impact both everyday cooking & career development in the food industry. Our plant-based consumer packaged goods distribution will address access to healthy food & job opportunities in the community. Our initial product line includes 3 seasoning blends [carnitas, al pastor, tinga] for jackfruit, a popular plant-based meat alternative with low processing as compared to other highly processed meat alternatives on the market. Together, with People’s Yoga, we plan to create a community space in accordance with CDC guidelines. Similarly, all programming will be filmed from our studio until in-person classes can resume following CDC guidelines
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
In 2020, Todo Verde published a plant-based Mexican cookbook widely recognized in the Eastside community, selling over 20,000 copies. This proves the community is ready to create more plant-based culturally relevant staples & have been missing the resources for healthier lifestyle shifts. We are working to provide knowledge & give our community the confidence to reclaim their health through the power of food. Since 2012, People’s Yoga has been on a mission to strengthen neighborhoods with access to yoga & other wellness practices. Our community centered space introduced yoga to over 10,000 residents, workers, students, & families throughout LA County. We will continue to offer the tools, resources, & practices necessary to make health a sustainable reality for the Eastside. In our 1st year, our space will open with in-person & virtual wellness programming. Our long term vision is to create community impact through skills-training in the culinary & wellness fields & job creation.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We survey attendees to improve the learning process, teaching methodology, buy better equipment, offer new recipes, & design new offerings. Our attendees often share the process via social media & email, & work to make plant-based food & movement a regular part of life. We often hear verbal feedback from the community expressing impacts like cholesterol lowering or personal relationships improving. In Q1 2020, Todo Verde saw over 1500 attendees, with a huge momentum with the cookbook & people cooking at home for family. We have continued a steady pace of over 200 quarterly attendees. In Q1 2020, People’s Yoga members dropped while transitioning to live streaming & have since maintained a steady 50 monthly members. In Q4 2020, we launched a new on-demand feature in response to community feedback. In one month we gained 100 subscribers & have now grown to 270 subscribers.
Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.
People’s Yoga offers classes & programs, in English & Spanish, addressing access to mental health services, resilient communities, older adult well being, social & emotional support, obesity, & youth sports participation. All classes & programs focus on mental, emotional, & physical health & are designed for children, youth, adults, & elders. Our educational training programs work to provide career paths & certifications to teach yoga; the training program not only prepares students to be skilled yoga instructors but also supports them on their path of launching their own wellness careers. Grant funding will help People’s Yoga continue & expand current programming, & build additional features to support programming, such as an outdoor meditation garden.
Which of the live metrics will you impact?
- Access to healthy food
- Resilient communities
- Access to mental health services
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to CREATE