The First Lady, Health and Inglewood

LACEF’s mission is to seek out opportunities to address the needs of underserved children and teens.  LACEF looks at the whole child – educationally, emotionally and physically. To that end, we applaud the stance the First Lady has taken by focusing on health.  She has said “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.” This is true. According to the Center for Disease Control, Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years.

Earlier this week Mrs. Obama was in Southern California promoting “Let’s Move”, her campaign against childhood obesity.  One of her stops was in Inglewood, the city in which I live.  She discussed, (along with one of our partners, The California Endowment), efforts to provide healthier food options in “traditionally” underserved areas. What I know about Let’s Move is that it is dedicated to solving obesity among children in the next generation.  What I know about the options in my community is that children and families don’t have many options when it comes to eating healthier.  From the standpoint, of acting as Chief Operating Officer for LACEF, it ties in with our Stay Well Learn Well school-based health center initiative promoting and funding health clinics for students and families on school sites in their communities. From a personal standpoint, I recognize the challenges that I and other people who live in my community face when it comes to healthier options.

For example, I don’t shop for food in the community in which I live.  I travel to Marina Del Rey to shop a farmer’s fresh market for my vegetables and fruit and either drive to the Whole Foods in El Segundo or Ralph’s in Ladera Heights for fish and other food staples.  However, not everyone has the time or the means to do this.

Thankfully, part of the reason the First Lady was in Inglewood, was to celebrate the effort to bring fresh food to impoverished neighborhoods. Mrs. Obama visited an abandoned warehouse in Inglewood, where a new grocery store is set to open in April.  With The California Endowment leading the way, The FreshWorks Fund -– a coalition of health organizations, banks and groceries -– has committed $264 million in public-private loans to help the stores get underway. Northgate Gonzalez Markets will receive $20 million in financing to open the Inglewood store and two other markets in City Heights and South Los Angeles. For Wednesday’s event, the market franchise set up bins of fruits and vegetables and shelves of cereal, juices and rice. Following the speeches, residents filled up bags with free groceries. The market is part of a statewide push to reduce obesity by attracting grocers to disadvantaged communities and making healthy food more accessible.

Lack of healthy eating options combined with lack of exercise contribute to obese children. Having the First Lady address healthier food options for children and families not only in schools, but within the community goes a long way. We, as a society, cannot not afford to have another generation of obese children, it puts a tremendous strain on the individual person as far as their quality of life and on society as a whole.

LACEF supports INVESTING in LA’s children via healthier options. We BELIEVE our children are worth it. We CHAMPION those who are committed to improving conditions for the benefit of LA’s children and teens.

LACEF stands with the First Lady in her the efforts towards healthier children and communities!

Dawn Turner, LACEF Chief Operating Officer