California FreshWorks Fund Delivers on Healthy Food Access

HEALTH HAPPENS IN NEIGHBORHOODS CALIFORNIA FRESHWORKS FUND DELIVERS ON HEALTHY FOOD ACCESS PROMISE IN INGLEWOOD, CITY HEIGHTS AND SOUTH LOS ANGELES

California FreshWorks Fund Projected to Create Or Retain Up To 6000 Jobs in California!

Today, First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama joined Robert K. Ross, M.D., CEO of The California Endowment and other local leaders to celebrate the first tangible examples of progress facilitated by the California FreshWorks Fund, a $264 million public-private partnership loan fund led by The California Endowment and an all-star team of partners to bring affordable healthy food access to underserved communities around the state.

The event featured fresh and healthy foods that will soon be available at the abandoned Inglewood site that, with the help of California FreshWorks Fund financing, will soon become a Northgate Gonzalez Market.

Northgate Gonzalez Markets was once a small family-owned grocer and has grown to be a community staple in dozens of locations across California.  The California FreshWorks Fund committed in excess of $20 million in financing to Northgate Gonzalez Markets for their first three projects: a recently opened City Heights, San Diego location and two planned stores in Inglewood and South Los Angeles. In keeping with the Northgate brand, these new locations will prioritize healthy food retailing as they expand their company, create jobs, and help nourish communities that otherwise lack access to healthy AND affordable food.

“The FreshWorks Fund is helping Northgate transform the health of communities!,” said Gonzalez.  “We value being able to contribute to the health and well being of the neighborhoods we serve.  Stores #34 in City Heights and #35 in Inglewood may not have been possible without this help.”

Scott Sporte, Chief Lending Officer, NCB Capital Impact, one of the primary partners managing the FreshWorks Fund, said, “We value helping stores like Northgate Gonzalez Markets expand to areas with limited access to affordable, healthy foods – not just because they are fresh grocery experts, but because they are committed to the health and well being of the communities they serve.”

In addition to the First Lady, speakers include President and CEO of the California Endowment Robert K. Ross, M.D., Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Inglewood Mayor James Butts, Northgate Gonzalez Markets COO and Co-President Oscar Gonzalez, and community leaders from around Los Angeles. Speakers noted the visible progress being made in communities in the region, but also illustrated the need to do more. “Health Happens in our Neighborhoods,” said Robert K. Ross, CEO of The California Endowment, a lead partner for the FreshWorks Fund.  “We all have a shared interest in ensuring our neighborhoods, grocery stores and school cafeterias contribute positively to the health of our communities. Today’s announcement marks the beginning of what we hope will be a robust effort to expand access to nutritious food for all Californians!”

Last July, Mrs. Obama celebrated nationwide commitments by the California FreshWorks Fund and major retailers to open or expand stores in areas with limited access to healthy food. The California FreshWorks Fund partners include grocers, major banks, health care entities, research experts and others. The fund is modeled after the successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative and was developed to align with the National Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).

By driving economic development and encouraging innovation in healthy food retailing practices, the Fund not only creates jobs, but also helps Californians gain greater access to healthy food choices and lead healthier lives.

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The California Endowment’s homepage at www.calendow.org 

California FreshWorks Fund partners include: The California Endowment, NCB Capital Impact, NCB, Unified Grocers, California Grocers Association, Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), Calvert Foundation, Social Compact, Emerging Markets, PolicyLink, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Community Health Councils, Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles and most recently Met Life, Citibank, Opportunity Finance Network, and Charles Schwab Bank.

Author: Richard Sandoval

Richard Sandoval is an award winning journalist who produces Hispanic Lifestyle a television program broadcasting on several PBS stations throughout the United States. editorial@Hispaniclifestyle.com

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