KOREATOWN, Calif. – Fresh and healthy food is often found at farmer’s markets or local grocery stores, but the prices are out of reach for many low income and homeless individuals.
One woman decided to bring a little of her hometown in New York to Los Angeles by starting a 99 Cent Organic Bodega in a Koreatown neighborhood to serve everyone. The store is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, and until 4 a.m. on weekends.
Most of the items are $1, but some are $5, like specialty fruit juices. The fridge is stocked with fresh food from local grocery stores and farmers markets that donate the food that would otherwise go to waste.
Lunch On Me’s Organic 99 Cent Store visionaries are challenging the norm, creating a new conversation on affordable healthy foods, and making a healthier lifestyle accessible to everyone.
“Anyone, everyone. Our doors are open to everyone. And if someone doesn’t have food they can come in and eat,” said LaRayia Gaston, founder of the nonprofit.
As part of their food program, this new concept will employ the homeless and foster youths where they will be trained in foodservice and coffee.
For years the nonprofit Lunch On Me has given out thousands of free and healthy meals to homeless people. Gaston wanted to take that idea further by creating a store to give people regular access to quality food.
“Food shouldn’t be a privilege it should be a right to everyone. These are things that grow natural. Had capitalism not been, everyone would have access to this food,” said Gaston. “We live in America. This isn’t a third world country. There’s no reason people should go hungry here.”
If anyone who enters the store is unable to pay they won’t leave empty handed, the store will give them a free vegan meal.
In six months, the store will be open 24 hours a day. The store is located at 2713 W 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057.