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Church leads the way to more healthful diets with fresh produce market

FAME

Dorothy Carson figures her diet of frequent fried chicken and virtually no fresh produce finally caught up with her in July, when she was hospitalized for a stroke-like condition.

After two months in recovery from blurred vision, Carson returned to church at First African Methodist Episcopal Church a few weeks ago. That very same day, she said, the church launched a new open-air fresh produce market to bring healthful foods and better diets to the residents of South Los Angeles.

So there she was this weekend, scooping up fresh cucumbers, avocados, green beans, grapes and other produce she said she never would have dreamed of eating before. Carson said she now consumes about six daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Her weight and cholesterol levels are down.

"It's like an angel brought this to me," Carson, 58, said of the market. "It has really helped the community. . . . Now we are finally eating well."

FAME Assistance Corp., the church's nonprofit economic development and social service arm, officially unveiled the market Sunday at Western Avenue and Adams Boulevard. The festive grand opening featured elected officials, live entertainment, food booths and the main stars of the show: bins and bins of fresh produce.

The new market, open on weekends, seeks to bring healthful fare and nutritional education to what one community activist called the "food deserts" of inner-city Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a nonprofit economic development organization, has launched a campaign to attract major supermarkets to South and East Los Angeles and the northeast San Fernando Valley. Even some liquor stores, long the bane of inner-city neighborhoods, have begun offering fruits and vegetables. Read more here.

-- Teresa Watanabe

Photo: Worknesh Ayele, left, and her daughter, Hiwot Tesfaye, shop at the church's produce market Sunday at Western Avenue and Adams Boulevard in South Los Angeles. Photo credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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