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Pacoima-based businesses Fruta y Cultura and Café o Muerte are combining efforts to support neighborhood growers while providing jobs to youth in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

Fruta y Cultura, LLC, will sell fresh made natural juices and smoothies with the local harvest. Their first sourcing for fruits and vegetables will come from neighborhood trees and backyard gardens. The business will join with MEND Poverty and PB to work with locals who are currently enrolled in their programs, who have expressed an interest in selling their backyard produce. Additional produce needs will be supplemented through a food distribution system that caters to small businesses who want to offer healthy foods.

“Since the beginning, my mission has been to create a space for folks in the neighborhood to enjoy. Thanks to partnerships with the business community, non-profits and local organizations, we have accomplished that goal at Pacoima City Hall. We have integrated sustainability, resiliency, economic mobility, healthy living programs with opportunities for economic development,” said Councilmember Fuentes.

“Creating economic opportunities for people, even at small levels, sends a message to local residents that we care about them as much as we care about improvements to the physical environment. By creating a constant demand for locally grown produce, paid at fair market value, we feel we can stimulate the local economy by putting money in the pockets of our backyard growers,” said Miguel Luna, Owner, Fruta y Cultura.

Fruta y Cultura has partnered with Youth Policy Institute (YPI) to hire 80 percent of their team through a food their workforce development program. The youth live in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, most of them in Pacoima.

Café o Muerte is owned by Cafecito Organico. It’s a Los Angeles-based coffee roaster and retailer, specializing in direct sourcing of sustainably grown coffee from Central America and other major coffee growing regions. Cafecito Organico works directly with farmers, specifically with small growers and family farms that produce high-quality coffees sustainability. They offer in-house roasting, along with career training in the coffee industry as a marketable craft. Additionally, they partnered with YPI to hire their team.

“Cafecito Organico was born in 2004 out of the sidewalk vending district business incubator in MacArthur Park.  Since then, our mission has been to support local community groups and organizations, as well as other food-based businesses, and be a part of revitalization efforts in our communities. Via our partnership with Pacoima Beautiful, Fruta y Cultura, YPI and Councilmember Felipe Fuentes we are creating career opportunities in the coffee industry for youth in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, and providing a welcoming space for the community at large,” said Angel Orozco, Founder/Managing Partner, Cafecito Organico.

Both L.A. City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes and Pacoima Beautiful (PB), a nonprofit organization working to educate and beautify the community, were instrumental in the project coming together.

“Since the beginning, my mission has been to create a space for folks in the neighborhood to enjoy.,” Fuentes said. “Thanks to partnerships with the business community, non-profits and local organizations, we have accomplished that goal at Pacoima City Hall. We have integrated sustainability, resiliency, economic mobility, healthy living programs with opportunities for economic development.”

Pacoima Beautiful is sub-leasing to Fruta y Cultura and Cafecito Organico. Funding from the sub-lease will be used to maintain the space and programming. The nonprofit will host various programs in the community space. Also, it will be available to organizations for meetings and events.

 “Partnering with Fruta y Cultura is a perfect partnership for Pacoima Beautiful. It promotes healthy eating, urban gardening, economic development, revitalization, opportunities for our youth. Fruta y Cultura and Café o Muerte will give the community and visitors a great meeting place along Van Nuys Boulevard,” said Veronica Padilla, Executive Director, Pacoima Beautiful.

“By collaborating, we are revitalizing Van Nuys Boulevard, cultivating and supporting a new place-making culture and growing our local economy,” added Fuentes.

The café will be open seven days a week: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to  6 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to  5 pm.

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