Fund Fresh Foods: The Young Entrepreneur Fighting Against Food Deserts in South LA
The late Nipsey Hussle (born Ermias Joseph Asghedom), a Grammy-nominated rapper, entrepreneur and activist, had a plan for his underserved community of South Los Angeles and across the United States. His hometown area’s stretch of Slauson Avenue has been abominably affected by the gentrification boom continuing across neighborhoods of Los Angeles since decades.
The attention—financial and otherwise—paid to gentrified areas amplify the lack of investment in the Hyde Park section of South L.A., from the faces of neglected buildings to a less obvious but more pressing thing amiss: grocery stores.
And that’s what entrepreneur Olympia Auset is fighting against. Auset is the founder of SÜPRMARKT, a pop-up grocery store offering low-cost, organic foods, with the ultimate mission of using food to help eradicate racial inequality.
“Food is a tool that can be used either for oppression or liberation,” says Auset.
According to Mary Lee, a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s advisory board, food access is tied to deep structural racism, especially in underserved communities like South L.A. In a statement made in Civil Eats, Lee shared that food insecurity in South L.A. “runs parallel to white flight out of the area when enforced legal segregation ended.”
As the white residents fled away from the area, so did the grocery stores, in a case that is not unfamiliar in other now food-insecure parts of the country. Racist practices of red-lining led to further struggles for the Black community of South L.A., making it impossible for business ownership. As a result, instead of restaurants and fresh-food stores, South L.A. is a “food swamp” of fast-food chains and liquor stores.
Auset says she had to travel two hours to get fresh foods and groceries, a costly trip in both time and money. Her experience fueled SÜPRMARKT, which currently sells produce and dry goods throughout South L.A. But Auset wants to serve the community further with a brick-and-mortar offering groceries and even meals. She hopes to do this by converting the reentry-closed mister Wisdom and needs your help to raise the appropriate funds to do so.
She told Eater LA, “ I didn’t find out [of Mister Wilson’s closing] until Nipsey Hussle’s passing. We want to turn it into a grocery store. I don’t want to go to my friend’s funerals because they don’t have good food available to them.”
Auset hopes to raise $111,000 to get things off the ground, and the campaign ends in ten days. Click below to put an end to fresh food scarcity and fund the campaign if you can.