East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Ramirez Meat Market

East L.A. is not only an amazing city that is rich in culture, but also one that has many landmarks and celebrities many people don’t acknowledge. People who don’t live in East L.A. assume that there’s nothing special about it. I’ve never lived in East L.A., but I’ve been going to school there for the past six and a half years. I know there are so many landmarks and celebrities in East L.A. that need to be recognized. Not many people think that a meat market in East L.A. could be a landmark.

Two years ago, the school I currently attend, East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy, participated in a very interesting project called Proyecto MercadoFRESCO, a project of the UCLA Center for Population Health and Health Disparities (CPHHD). This project was designed to help the cardiovascular health in East L.A. The  students partnered up with Public Matters, a social enterprise, and headed over to Ramirez Meat Market, determined to work with the market to improve the community. They worked with the owner, Celia Ramirez, to remodel her store so it could offer more fruits and vegetables for the community, which would improve the health of her customers.

Although she was a bit shy at first, she formed a bond with the students and trusted them with this project. After the students remodeled the interior, they moved on to the exterior and  repainted the store from a dull peach color to a vibrant blue, with animals, fruits and vegetables to indicate the healthier changes. These students didn’t just stop there. They also showed other people living in East L.A. some ways to prepare healthier foods that could also be very easy, quick and affordable.

Before the change, the store was a typical market that you’d find at every corner. After this project was finished, Ramirez Meat Market was widely known as a unique store. It was now considered an East L.A. landmark! This market now symbolizes the people and culture of East L.A. by showing how much can be done with teamwork.

Proyecto MercadoFRESCO was an absolute success! The students’ hard work clearly paid off. It was a change never before seen in East L.A., and it was a big deal. This new and improved market showed the perseverance of these high school students. It was a great experience for both the students and Celia.

People from other places were interested in this market because they had never heard about this being done in any other city. If this place were ever to get shut down and replaced, the people of the community would be very sad and upset. This market is not only a place where people go to buy groceries, but also a symbol of the culture and determination of the community. Celia, the owner, should be considered an East L.A. celebrity because of all that she has done to improve the healthy food choices available to the community. People will argue that a true celebrity is someone like Angelina Jolie or a Hollywood star, but we never stop to think, “Is that the true meaning of a celebrity?” For me, a real celebrity is someone like Celia, an everyday hero we live by but never acknowledge.  

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