USC helps provide free fresh food to low-income communities

USC Keck School of Medicine, the American Heart Association and Food Forward launch a free food service program for East LA residents.

Nelly Ruiz is a mother of four boys. She says it’s hard to keep good healthy food on the table. But today she has her pick of fresh fruits and vegetables.

“These foods I will steam them and make snacks for my kids, like oranges,” Ruiz said. “Food is getting more expensive.”

Other people feel the same way. And that’s why USC’s Keck school of medicine and the American heart association are teaming up to distribute free healthy food. Once a month, they will be at Hazard Park in Boyle Heights to help people to get fresh produce. The heart association says it can be difficult for low-income people to eat healthy.

“Traditionally food pantries tend to offer things that are non-perishable, so either canned options or dry options,” said Ana-Alicia Carr, community impact director of the America Heart Association. “But we have a good opportunity to bring fresh food to the community.”

It is not people in East LA don’t want healthy foods. The American Heart Association says over 60 percent of residents they talked to said healthy foods were just too expensive.

“So very often these communities are inundated with unhealthy options that have too much fat, sodium and sugar,” Carr said.

The association says unhealthy food can lead to heart disease. Educating people about healthy choices is also one of their goals.

“I think the university has to have a commitment with the community to educate the community regarding nutrition and regarding food access,” said Dulce Acosta, executive director of community partnership at USC’sHealth Sciences campus.

People can get information, free blood pressure tests, and nutrition advice from health workers. The program will continue once a month through July.

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