YOU'RE GONNA WANNA EAT YOUR VEGGIES ROAD SHOW
Root Down LA
South LA youth, who now run RootDown LA, know how to build demand for fresh produce directly in their neighborhoods. Our goal this year is to support these young people by putting them at the forefront of local food systems change in South Los Angeles. Our project consists of employing youth ages 16-24 to run live cooking demonstrations at six farmers markets to increase awareness and consumption of healthy foods.
What does your organization do?
RootDown LA empowers youth to succeed through healthy ventures in their communities.
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- Root Down LA and See-LA
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
RootDown LA (RDLA) formed in 2007 when Teen Nutrition Educators at Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles (SLA) noticed that their best efforts to change their peers’ eating habits through standard nutrition education weren’t working. Back then and still today, SLA residents experience disproportionately high rates of diet-related illnesses like diabetes, compared to other parts of SLA and this is due primarily to a lack of access to, and daily consumption of healthy, nutrient rich foods. These students saw the infrastructure surrounding this notorious low-income community and commonly described food desert - underfunded school lunch programs, copious liquor and fast food stores, poverty, and peoples’ hectic lives all still create complex barriers to healthy eating that people in other parts of LA don’t face. They asked, “How can we change the way our community eats?” RDLA formed to support these and other SLA youth to increase their own capacity to develop local solutions to address food insecurity in SLA.
SLA youth are one of its greatest assets and they want to improve health and wealth outcomes in their community. Many continue working with RDLA in unpaid capacities for as long as they can, but as they near graduation and begin to attend local colleges they need jobs to support themselves and their families. To that end, RDLA has sought to create paid positions for SLA youth, not just as interns in our educational programs, but also as staff members. Today, RDLA staff members are primarily young people from South LA who have come through RDLA’s programs. In the past 10 years, SLA youth and other residents and community partners have been part of all project formation - from formal evaluation focus groups, to project brain-storming, to casual planning conversations in RDLA gardens.
Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?
- Access to healthy food
- Obesity rates
- Resilient communities
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- South LA
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
How will your project make LA the best place to live?
In partnership with SEE-LA a non profit organization whose mission is to build sustainable food systems and promote social and cultural activities that benefit both low-to-moderate income residents of Los Angeles while also supporting California small-and mid-sized farms and local small business - Rootdown LA is aiming to change existing perceptions of Farmer Markets. This project builds on RootDown LA’s existing social enterprise,(RootDown LA’s Youth-Pipeline), which employs graduates from our culinary training and puts them at the forefront of local food systems change in South Los Angeles.
Imagine this, you’re attending a farmers on a warm sunny day. As you walk around you are greeted by friendly vendors. You begin to notice beautiful produce on display , vibrant colors, familiar and unfamiliar items, but most importantly you begin to notice produce prices discouraging you from buying anything from the market that day. This is the story many of us face while attending local farmers markets.
Now imagine this , you are walking around the same market admiring the same things but right before you observe prices you are approached by one of RootDown LA’s youths who is inviting you over to a booth for a free youth-led live-cooking demonstration. This demo is featuring a healthy meal made with produce you can find at the market. You are not only observing youth trainees cook like pros and obtaining a free food sample, you are receiving free recipe cards, learning about zero waste concepts,health benefits,cooking tips and techniques, and learning about the benefits of spending your dollars locally all aimed to increase points and awareness to access points for healthy food.
What’s most exciting about this project is not only LA2050 funding will allow us to increase youth employment starting in South Los Angeles , but will give young people an opportunity to get to know more precisely, their peers’, parents’ and neighbors’ complex barriers to healthy eating, so they could better address and dismantle those barriers SLA youth are one of its greatest assets and they want to improve health and wealth outcomes in their community. Many continue working with RDLA in unpaid capacities for as long as they can, but as they near graduation and begin to attend local colleges they need jobs to support themselves and their families. To that end, RDLA has sought to create paid positions for SLA youth, not just as interns in our educational programs, but also as staff members. Today, RDLA staff members are primarily young people from South LA who have come through RDLA’s programs. In the past 10 years, SLA youth and other residents and community partners have been part of all project formation - from formal evaluation focus groups, to project brain-storming, to casual planning conversations in RDLA gardens.
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.
RDLA’s greatest success can be observed in the passion and commitment from our youth, who are advocates for, and now run the majority of our programs; eleven are paid employees, who train and manage the next generations of younger youth interns. You can find them all online - their collective enthusiasm is reflected in our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, which they post in, regularly.
We will rely on formative assessments, getting feedback in real time and redirecting when necessary. Summative assessments will use both quantitative and qualitative measurements - such as the increase in knowledge and confidence of trainees, increased access to healthy food, and the number of graduates who secure employment. We measure progress of the organization in terms of the depth of our partnerships in the community, and our relevance where we work, as is expressed by constant demand for us to increase our programming.
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Access to LA2050 community
- Host public events on the topic your organization’s issue area (e.g. access to capital, education reform, clean energy, etc.)
- Communications support, including traditional media, social media, and LA2050 newsletter
- Capacity, including staff
- Strategy assistance and implementation
Safecast (Momoko Ito Foundation)
Community Air Quality Monitoring
Following on our previous air quality monitoring of Los Angeles, we are working to install next generation air sensors at public library branches throughout the city. In addition to the sensors and the real time data they will provide to communities, we are developing curriculum and workshops for neighborhoods and communities to better understand their environment.
Rebel Labs Inc.
#LAgrows: Building a Healthier Community Through Farm-to-Market-to-Table Nutrition & Wellness Education
Rebel Labs has teamed up with two LA-based not-for-profit organizations, Sprouts of Promise and GrowGood (a past LA2050 grant applicant), to launch #LAgrows. The vision is to deliver nutrition, fitness, and wellness education across LA — Grow Better, Shop Better, Cook Better, Eat Better, Live Better — culminating with LA Farmers Market Week. Through online and face-to-face education, engagement, mobilization, and community-building, together we can help LA eliminate obesity and type 2 diabetes.