Los Angeles County is offering up to two new Energy Star glass door refrigerators at no cost to eligible small businesses through its Healthy Stores Refrigeration Program, Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis announced Thursday.
The program seeks to promote healthy food options in low-income communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support to small businesses regarding energy efficiency upgrades and the benefits of offering healthy food options, Solis said.
The program also gives store owners the opportunity to save on energy usage and utility bills and provide non-processed or minimally processed food options for the communities they serve, Solis said.
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"Los Angeles County residents, especially those with limited transportation, depend on their local community grocers for everyday needs, making these stores critical to the health of a community," Solis said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for energy-efficient refrigerators recently installed at Lupita's Market in the Northeast Los Angeles community of Cypress Park.
"Through the Healthy Stores Refrigeration Program, the county is committed to making healthy food accessible in these local stores by providing free, upgraded refrigeration equipment so store owners can stock them with healthy, nutritious food options."
The program "not only took away our old, bad, inefficient equipment, but gave us twice as much in return," allowing With Love Market and Cafe in Pico-Union to increase its refrigerated vegetable selection by 50%, said owner Andrew McDowell.
The program is funded by a $1.4 million grant awarded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Sixteen stores have participated in the program, Solis said. HSRP refrigerators will be placed in 80 stores throughout Los Angeles County by 2022, according to Solis.