A big celebration was held Monday for the grand opening of the Northgate Gonzalez Market in South Los Angeles, which will provide the community with a healthy variety of food choices and 130 new jobs.
“It brings a different type of education as far as your shopping and your shopping experience, and it gives you more diverse choices,” meat cutter Ivan Neeley said.
The shopping plaza is named after Juanita Tate, who founded the group Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles.
She died nearly a decade ago. On Monday, her daughter celebrated her birthday with this gift to the community.
“This is just a fulfillment of a promise made 25 years ago to this community that we would provide decent, quality produce, we would provide good quality food,” Noreen McClendon, Executive Director, Concerned Citizens of South Central LA said.
Not only is it providing healthy options in a neighborhood that doesn’t have many, it’s also giving former gang members a second chance.
“There’s not a lot of jobs out here for us people from the neighborhood and a lot of people stereoptype us,” said Angel Garcia, who works as a cook.
The Northgate Gonzalez organization and the California Fresh Works Fund, along with the city, have committed to hiring members of Homeboy Industries at the grocery store.
“I made a lot of bad decisions in the past.” said meat clerk Orsy Jerez. “Now that I’m here, I want to prove to them that they are able to hire me, and they are able to hire more homeboys.”
Community leaders are hoping new opportunities and better access to nutrition bring positive change to the neighborhood.
“My mom was always about hope,” McClendon said. “When this was a scrap metal yard in a vacant lot, she saw hope. She saw a better way for this community. She saw bigger, she saw better.