Photo by C.J. Salgado

By C.J. Salgado

It was Halloween and not all zombies were out eating brains. At least not in East L.A. Instead, some rather young and happy looking “vegetarian zombies” could be found promoting healthy eating habits on posters in local bus shelters along several major thoroughfares like Whittier Boulevard, Atlantic Boulevard, and 3rd Street. It’s all part of a project organized and funded by a coalition of seeking to reduce high levels of obesity and heart disease by increasing healthy eating habits and physical activity.

In view of the U.S. obesity epidemic (over a third of adults, children, and adolescents are obese), projects like this are putting a fresh face on the fight to support healthy food options.

How are these posters carrying on the fight against obesity and heart disease? Armed with 11 eye-catching themes and over 40 bus shelter sites, the general message is going out to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Besides the “vegetarian zombies” theme, other themes include zumba ladies, mariachis, magicians, and, yes, even scuba divers. It’s all part of a partnership project which includes UCLA, USC,Los Angeles County and  VELA, a local nonprofit group. It’s funded by a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute grant

Curious? Take a trek through East L.A. and see if you can spot all 11 themes.  This project is also designed to support the local farmers market in East L.A. , said  Josie Cervantes of VELA. In addition, attention is also focused on “converted” corner stores. These are “market makeovers” done in order to increase the access to and intake of fruits and vegetables by turning conventional “corner stores” into “health conscious assets”.

So far two such stores have been converted in East L.A., Yash La Casa Market and Ramirez Meat Market, through the associated Proyecto Mercado Fresco del Este de Los Angeles project.

These posters went up in the middle of October and will remain for the rest of the year. However, unlike the extra weight we are sure to acquire during the holidays, we’re going to lose them after that so enjoy these visual but meaningful treats while they last.

C.J. Salgado is an East Los Angeles resident

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