by Miguel Morales, Community Networker
A stroll through the broad, tree-lined sidewalks of Paseo Boricua, Division Street between California and Western, reveals the sights, sounds and smells of Puerto Rico – pastel colored buildings with Spanish-style facades reminiscent of old San Juan stand on either side; vendors selling coconut ice cream in small paper cups ring the small bells on their push carts; and the scent of sofrito, the tangy base of Puerto Rican cuisine, wafts in the air. This last sensory experience is probably the most common one, given this neighborhood is the restaurant and business district of East Humboldt Park.
If you walk into one these restaurants, you might see a table tent featuring a healthy menu item that contains fresh produce. This is part of a new initiative by CLOCC partner Community Organizing Obesity Prevention in Humboldt Park (CO-OP HP), a project of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC). In 2009, CLOCC helped to fund Buen Provecho, a project in which local Puerto Rican restaurants modify one of their menu items to feature fresh produce and prepare them in a healthier way. Currently, the restaurants involved are La Bruquena, Coco, La Plena, Papa’s Cache Sabroso, Nellie’s and Café Colao.
In 2004, the PRCC, CLOCC and other partners formed CO-OP HP as a response to the high rates of overweight and obesity among children in West Town and Humboldt Park, which surpassed 60%. CO-OP HP began to engage the neighborhood in programming aimed at changing the built environment and addressing access to healthy food available to the community. CO-OP HP through Buen Provecho is also working with local bodegas to stock and sell fresh produce or products that contain fresh produce – see the photos below.