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New Food Maps Program Aims to Encourage Healthy Lifestyles in South L.A.

Photo by pug freak on Flickr
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One of the many pressing food issues today is the existence of food deserts, or areas where the access to good, clean, fair food is scarce. Oftentimes these areas are in the heart of big cities, which might come as a surprise to some.

A new project is hoping to change that by mapping out good food available in South L.A., showing that healthy living is possible in the area. Their set of maps, which will be officially released this weekend, emphasizes areas where people can buy healthy food locally, and that healthy activities like bike rides and gardening can be both good for individuals and the community.

The map was developed after a series of exploratory bicycle rides and walks. To gather text and photos, organizers walked and biked with South L.A. teenagers and children through the community, as they discovered and documented healthy places to eat. They uploaded their photos directly from the cameras on their basic cellphones, using the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab platform called ParTour, developed by Professor François Bar and the ParTour researchers.

"The story here is there are a lot of places where we can get healthy food and safe ways to get there if you don't have a car. The idea is to encourage people to look at options that are right there," Bar said.

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Organizers worked with the CicLAvia graphic designer Colleen Corcoran to turn the stream of pictures into a custom map, which will be distributed for the first time at a community ride this weekend.

The event begins at 10 a.m. on March 3 at Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave. For more info on this weekend's ride, visit the Ride South L.A site.