Jewish Journal

Hard Realities of Food Deserts Revealed During East L.A. Bus Tour

by Ryan Torok

March 24, 2010 | 1:03 pm

Last Sunday, two buses carried volunteers from the Progressive Jewish Alliance, a nonprofit organization, and from the Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores, a coalition. They drove around East Los Angeles neighborhood Boyle Heights, an area which is considered a food desert (food deserts are defined as neighborhoods that don’t have a supermarket within .5 miles of the neighborhood’s commercial center).

The bus tour stopped in Ramona Gardens, a housing project that has seen its share of gang violence and where resident, single mother and L.A. Voice PICO organizer Olga Peres spoke about the lack of nutritious options for her and her family.

In addition, Peres said that the nearby convenience stores sell expired food and that the lettuce that she buys has to be peeled and peeled until she can get to a part that she can actually eat. She also said that at one of these stores, she purchased a bottle of juice, and, to her dismay, found that it had already spoiled and was moldy. When she tried to return it, the employee at the store only offered her store credit.

Yeah, that’s definitely the kind of place where you’d want store credit.

Look for my Jewish Journal ‘food deserts’ feature story (in print and online) in mid-April.


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Ryan Torok is a staff writer and community reporter at the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, where he has spent the past four years covering everything from social justice...

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