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Kaiser Permanente Helps Supermarket Bloom in Food Desert

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 30, 2014

The April 14 opening of the Northgate Gonzalez Market was 17 years in the making and was facilitated by a $50,000 workforce development grant from the California FreshWorks Fund, which describes itself as "a $272-million impact investing fund that provides loans and grants to grocers and other food enterprises to improve access to healthy food, spur economic development, and foster innovation in healthy food retailing."

Quality Food and Jobs
Northgate Gonzalez Market will bring fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthful foods into the neighborhood and it won't sell alcohol or cigarettes. It also used the workforce development grant to recruit, hire and train people living in the neighborhood, which suffers from high unemployment.

Solomon says the market created 153 new jobs, of which 111, or 73%, were new hires. Of those new hires, 74% are from adjacent zip codes and the vast majority live within two miles of the store. The workforce is 79% Latino, and African Americans predominate the remaining 21%—ratios that reflect almost exactly the demographics of the community served by the market.

"The idea is two-fold. One, we come at it from a health perspective. If we are serious about addressing people's health issues we need to create more access to healthy food," Solomon says.

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