My name is Carmina Gomez and I am a Food and Freedom Rider from East Los Angeles. I am a recent graduate from USC and I am currently working for a non-profit, called Alliance for a Better doing health policy. We are trying to increase physical activity and healthy food access in low income communities in Los Angeles.
I grew up in a community with a high-density of fast-food restaurants, in an area with more convenience and liquor stores than supermarkets, and witnessed the rise of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure rates, especially among the youth.
Over the summer as a McNair Scholar, I conducted my own research on farmers' markets in South Los Angeles and their effect on fruit and vegetable intake. My key findings show that families feel farmers' markets are helping them increase their fruit and vegetable intake and their children enjoy the rich, sweet fruit and eat more fruits and vegetables. Families understand why prices are so high at farmers' markets, but wish they had more help to purchase at farmers' markets more often and would like farmers' markets to be open more than once a week. For this reason, an increase on food stamps and WIC vouchers that could be used for fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets is a key gateway to help low-income communities have a healthier diet and increase their fruit and vegetable intake.
As an advocate for healthy food access in low-income communities, I dream that communities like the one I grew up in have access to rich, fresh, and healthy food to nourish our bodies. I want more resources like subsidies to fund farmers' markets, restaurants, and supermarkets, and schools in low-income communities to help them provide affordable fruits and vegetables and live, real food so that families like mine can access quality, healthy food.
Thank you for your time.