Keeping it Fresh
keep slauson fresh
olympia auset on access + food equality
In 2016, Olympia Auset was living in Inglewood, CA and riding a bus for up to three hours just to get to a grocery store that stocked healthy food. Tired of “having, whether I ate, what I ate, and how much it cost be in someone else’s hands,” she started a grocery service. SÜPRMARKT, as it came to be known, now serves dozens of people in her neighborhood each week via pop ups and a grocery delivery service.
After providing over 25,000 pounds of produce in the past 2 ½ years, Olympia has now launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring SÜPRMARKT produce into even more of her neighborhood’s homes by way of a brick-and-mortar shop. This shop, she hopes, will accomplish something that has never been done before: ending a food desert.
Inspired and in awe of Olympia’s message and tenacious commitment to her community, we sat down with her to learn more about her mission, the campaign, and what it’s really like to live without access to the things that nourish you.
at the root of what you're doing is providing access to healthful foods. Can you tell us a story about a particular time when you've seen how this lack of access affected someone in your community's daily life and/or health?
SÜPRMARKT started because I started seeing friends and family members pass away at early ages because of preventable diseases. I knew that if I didn't do something, I'd be attending my friends funerals at 50 and I wanted to prevent that.
If you live in a food desert, you get sick and die at higher rates than your well off counter parts. This isn’t something I knew as just a statistic much of my life, but because real people I knew and loved began passing away young from preventable disease. [This] is not a fact of life. It is an injustice and it needs to stop.
People in South LA should not have to work harder or go farther to find healthy options in their community. South LA has more than 1.3 Million residents and just 60 grocery stores. Living in a food desert makes you far more likely to suffer from a preventable disease. For instance, obesity rates are 25% higher in South LA than West LA and 13% higher than the county average.
My aim is to raise awareness to these disparities, so that the community can live healthier, longer lives. With a physical location, SÜPRMARKT can serve thousands of Angelenos, and have more space to pack produce boxes, be more efficient with delivery and take out - which would mean even more impact in our community.
You've been working for years now to bring organic, healthful food to food deserts across LA via popups and delivery. Why do you feel now is the time to open a brick and mortar store?
For two and ½ years, SÜPRMARKT has been building to this moment. Our mission is to provide access to affordable, quality food, which everyone in our community deserves, and we have done so with weekly pop-ups in the community and by delivering groceries across LA. We have provided 25,000+ pounds of produce since starting. It has been our hope to open a storefront for some time, but recent events have catalyzed the need for immediate action.
The day of the Nipsey Hussle tragedy, the SÜPRMARKT team was selling produce in Leimert Park, minutes away from The Marathon Store. Learning the visionary had been shot and killed, was devastating and lit a fire under me. I feel that we all need to step up to fill his shoes – this is what has propelled me to expand my plans to focus on the storefront.
In conversations following the tragedy, it came to my attention that Mr. Wisdom’s had closed. Mr. Wisdom’s had been at Crenshaw and Slauson for decades and was one of the few places that provided healthy options in the area. When I learned the place had closed I knew I had to do whatever I could to revive the cafe in the community.
What are you hoping the impact of opening the store will be for the community?
We will move from serving dozens weekly to thousands weekly and really begin to impact the footprint of food access in this country. People have reached out to us from across the world asking how they can do similar things. creating this health oasis in our hood will help people elsewhere heal theirs. More than being a place for nourishment, this location will be a gathering place for learning, community, and strength that provides long deserved access to the wellness wave other parts of society have been experiencing for the past decade.
What are the best ways to support SÜPRMaRKT's efforts?
Support our Keep Slauson Fresh Campaign. We are working to do something that has never been done: end a food desert. We want to open an organic grocery on Slauson Blvd in a historic location that once housed one of the area's only health stores. Give whatever you can to make this a reality and share with friends so this chance to give this community a healthy future doesn't pass us by! Get sharables at keepslausonfresh.net
Learn more about our work. Check out our Broken Bread Episode hosted by Chef Roy Choi.
Volunteer time and skills by visiting suprmarkt.la/give