UPAS Extends Food Justice Work to Support Local Entrepreneurs

UPAS Blog 4_14

During the past two years, United Parents and Students has kept itself busy spearheading a campaign that helped Green Dot Public School communities and others meet their food needs through the Los Angeles County food voucher program.

As pandemic restrictions loosen thanks to a high number of vaccinations all over the state, executive director Larry Fondation and associate director Veronica Toledo are ready to kick things up a notch. After all, UPAS had two years to review their programming in order to lobby for better conditions in the communities we serve, supported by both parents and students.

“We are launching a parents academy for our newer parents, so our organizers have been doing one on one to our new parents in particular as well as existing families in existing Green Dot schools, with families that are newer over the last two years as well as our incoming ninth grade and sixth grade classes among Green Dot Schools,” said Toledo.

One of the key projects is helping residents become entrepreneurs in such a way that they provide services to the communities and puts them on the road to self-sufficiency.

“We want to do Food Entrepreneurship of small businesses that are in the communities we serve, people who make the best tamales on the planet, but you never know because they don’t have the backing, the support to build it into a brick and mortar or into a door dash delivery type of thing,” said Fondation. “But they serve the whole familias, the Quinceaneras. How could we support those people who would not otherwise earn a living wage? No, we are going to fight for that, but we are going to say how do we develop people’s own self-sufficiency, the capacity within our communities.”

This project doesn’t mean they would abandon advocacy for eliminating food deserts or the fight to bring healthy food to the communities served. Foundation emphasizes that they would still be on the alert for stores that sell expired products and crowd the checkouts with junk food.

“We are going to keep fighting for supermarkets and healthy food in the communities that have food deserts. If we must go into other stores and photograph all their expired milk and how many tons of Tacky and Cheetos they had by the cash register we will!,” adds Fondation. “We created change there, but we want to put money in people’s pockets by supporting their entrepreneurships. Somewhere between a labor union and a business incubator, where we inform them of their rights on the one hand, but we also get them going because they are viable.”