HNMN Training (9/07/2013): “Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses”

On Saturday, September 7, 2013, corner stores, neighborhood markets and other small food businesses converged at Los Angeles Trade Tech College for “Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses,” a full day of inspiring lectures, workshops, and networking to enhance healthy food retail in Los Angeles. 

The “Healthy Foods, Healthy Businesses” event was the fourth in a series of leadership and business development trainings for corner stores and small food businesses in low-income communities who want to vend healthy food at their stores in an economically sustainable way for their businesses.

More than 90 independent store operators, healthy food and beverage vendors, neighborhood residents, and representatives from community based organizations and public agencies attended. The training was offered through the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network (HNMN), which is a project of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and was accessible in English, Spanish and Korean.

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The day began with a keynote address by Councilmember Curren D. Price Jr. who represents the 9th Council District where the conference was held. Next, the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Price recognized Healthy Neighborhood Market Champions – businesses, organizations and individuals who have made efforts to create greater food equity through small market environments in the City of Los Angeles. Among those honored were storeowners currently enrolled in the Community Market Conversion program: Karen Whitman, Mama’s Chicken (2501 W. Slauson Ave.); Nelson Garcia, 1 Dollar Warehouse (6001 S. Vermont Ave.), Gus Harris Jr. Oak’s Junior Market (2500 W. Jefferson Ave.),  Steve Jongsoo Park, Century Liquor and Market (3894 S. Western Ave.), and representatives from organizations which have provided technical assistance in support of store conversion work: the nonprofit Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI), Lewis-Schoeplein Architects and architecture and design firm Shook Kelley.

IMG_1996To continue the morning plenary, diverse experts shared their “Top Tips” for success, each summarizing in 10 minutes a few practical tools for improving business. Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network, spoke on the power of entrepreurship. Janet McIntyre, President of Janet McIntyre Consulting, spoke on effective management and leadership for small businesses. Sharon Evans, President & CEO of the Business Resource Group, offered marketing tips and ways to inspire customer loyalty. Barnaby Montgomery, CEO of Yummy.com, finished with tips for enhancing the profitability of healthy and fresh food products.The day began with a keynote address by Councilmember Curren D. Price Jr. who represents the 9th Council District where the conference was held.  Next, the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Price recognized Healthy Neighborhood Market Champions – businesses, organizations and individuals who have made efforts to create greater food equity through small market environments in the City of Los Angeles. Among those honored were storeowners currently enrolled in the Community Market Conversion program: Karen Whitman, Mama’s Chicken (2501 W. Slauson Ave.); Nelson Garcia, 1 Dollar Warehouse (6001 S. Vermont Ave.), Gus Harris Jr. Oak’s Junior Market (2500 W. Jefferson Ave.),  Steve Jongsoo Park, Century Liquor and Market (3894 S. Western Ave.), and representatives from organizations which have provided technical assistance in support of store conversion work: the nonprofit Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI), Lewis-Schoeplein Architects and architecture and design firm Shook Kelley.

IMG_2234A networking lunch followed, catered by Village Market Place, a social enterprise created by the South Los Angeles-based non-profit organization Community Services Unlimited, Inc.

A vendor exhibition featured healthy food distributors, lenders and community finance organizations, non-profits, and public agencies offering resources to small stores and food businesses.

In the afternoon, training attendees broke out 1.5-hour workshops led by experts in a range of business and leadership topics. Examples of topics included “Practical solutions for managing and making money off of fresh produce,” “Attract more customers and build customer loyalty,” Grow your business through marketing,” and “Beyond Produce: healthy food product and snacking trends.”

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Workshop presenters ranged from companies and public sector entities including Whole Foods, Fresco Community Market, Unified Grocers, Team Friday, Cooseman Shipping and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

In the final hour of the training, LAFPC staff led a Resource Exchange, highlighting programs, incentives, rebates and services available to storeowners. The session focused on government agencies, nonprofits, community based organizations, vendors and consulting groups committed to supporting the growth of food businesses and neighborhood markets in low-income communities as healthy food retailers.

Participants offered overwhelmingly positive feedback about the day, with a majority of exit survey respondents saying that the training taught them how to stock healthy foods in their stores. Networking, learning about marketing and the profitability of fresh foods were listed as the most valued parts of the training.

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To look through the full program and agenda from the training, click here.

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