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heal-thyself: Healthy food access in low-income communities karina lara

Kelli Jackson, owner of Hank's Mini Market, in front of the "Stronger Together" mural on the side of her store.
Kelli is a prime example of a person who cares deeply about her community. This sincere and kind-hearted person is the current owner of Hank’s Mini Market in Hyde Park. Hank was the original owner; he has lived in the community for over 50 years. Hank dreamt about having his own business, and in 1997, he opened the store. His daughter, Kelli, grew up watching her father and admired how much he truly cared about people’s well-being. He would always instill in her, “why work for someone else when you can work for yourself.” Kelli never thought about taking over, but soon realized that her community didn’t have access to healthier foods, to art, and even to safe spaces. Kelli chose to be the solution.
Many people talk about being healthier and eating fresh produce, especially living near L.A. However, far too many people, specifically low-income communities and people of color aren't provided that option. In order to have access to fresh food you have to travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices.
Kelli has a whole board dedicated to engaging her community. Each note on the board is from a customer, a friend, and even children. So the community has a part of them within the store.“If we would all see each other, value each other, and be there for one another, then that’s all community is about. It’s important for my customers to trust me and see me as more than just a store owner, but also as a friend.”

Kelli has one of the most beautiful gifts. She does not just treat you as customer, but makes you feel as if you are her friend despite knowing you for such a short amount of time and it's completely sincere. This characteristic makes people want to show up for her and be there when she needs help too.

Hank’s mini market originally started as a normal liquor store, but Kelli believes in changing the narrative of what a liquor store or corner store can be. As children turn the corner to buy a snack, Kelli wants them to see that they have more options. She said something that really changed my perspective: “Everyone is at a different place in their life, I don’t judge someone based on what they purchase, I just want them to have options.”

“When it comes to healthier food, we shouldn’t point the finger at people or condemn them from buying less healthy options. Instead we should inspire them and empower them to want to think better about what they are putting in their body.”
"My heart is with the community."
"It's more than that, Hank's is my canvas. We've created a brand that is beyond just a store, but also connects with people." The store is located within a food desert, and Kelli provides the community with produce that is not only healthy but is also inclusive to everyone.
Kelli hosted a holiday market on Small Business Saturday that showcased local Black- and Brown-owned businesses.