LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Refrigerators that use less electricity, but hold more fresh produce are a win-win for food deserts in neighborhoods like Cypress Park.
A ribbon was cut Thursday on Lupita’s Market in Cypress Park, where one of the county’s first energy-efficient, large capacity refrigerators were put to work. The refrigerators were provided free to store owners through the county’s Healthy Stores Refrigeration Program, which supports corner stores and small businesses in regions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“We know that this is where the higher number of diabetes, obesity, asthma, cancers, high blood pressure. The best thing that we can do is to offer food that is healthy, nutritious, that’ll lower all those healthcare ailments,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said.
People with the preexisting conditions Solis named were considered most at risk for contracting severe cases of COVID-19.
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The initiative is aimed at helping store and business owners in Los Angeles County provide fresh and healthy food options in their communities, some of which are considered to be food deserts because they don’t have many grocery stores. The program is funded by a $1.4 million grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The program also helps local stores and small business become more energy efficient. The owner of Lupita’s Store says her electricity bill has gone down by half since the refrigerators were installed.
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To date, 16 stores are participating in the program and 80 of the refrigerators will be placed in stores throughout Los Angeles by 2022.