How Northgate González Market champions community health
Northgate González Market is redefining the role that a grocery store can play in the community.
September 27, 2021 4 min read
For Northgate González Market customers, a typical grocery list might include fresh produce, ensalada de nopales (cactus salad), agua fresca (water flavored with fruit), and a free mammogram or glucose screening.
That’s because the market is more than a space for consumer transactions; it also serves as a portal to connect community members with access to resources, services and opportunities to improve health and wellness.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Northgate González Market hosted more than 850 free nutrition and health events to the communities it serves through its Viva la Salud initiative. These events ranged from educational efforts around chronic disease to annual breast exams and mammograms to healthy cooking demos.
Now, the market is engaging the community—and its own employees—in vaccination efforts to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The company’s goal is to reduce and remove barriers to promote greater accessibility for community members who want to get the vaccine.
Expanding the family business
Treating the community as an extended part of the family is in Northgate González Market’s DNA. When Don Miguel González founded Northgate González Market in 1980, family values were at the heart of the business that would ultimately expand across Southern California.
Don Miguel González immigrated to California from Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, Mexico, in the 1960s. He and his children worked as iron welders, seamstresses, dish washers and truck drivers. After years of work, he opened the first Northgate Market in Anaheim, California, selling dishes and ingredients from all over Mexico. The market was a hit, and González built on its success by opening additional stores in the late 1980s.
Today, there are more than 40 markets in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Diego County and Orange County, California. And in June 2021, Northgate González Market opened its South Gate store to serve the Los Angeles suburb and surrounding communities.
Revitalizing the South Gate neighborhood
When large retailers exit a neighborhood, it can have negative effects on the surrounding community. For example, loss of tax revenue, reduced property values and environmental issues may impede economic growth and vitalization.
"Capital One's New Market Tax Credit team partnered with The Reinvestment Fund to support revitalization efforts in Southeast Los Angeles," said Doug Fields, Senior Vice President, Tax Credit Finance. Together, the team provided $9.5 million of NMTC financing as part of the $27 million build-out of the 50,000 square foot Northgate González Market grocery store in a previously empty retail space.
As Northgate González Market establishes its presence in the South Gate community, it brings opportunities to reenergize the area, provide work opportunities for local residents and increase access to healthy, delicious and affordable foods.
Within the community of South Gate, more than 90 percent of residents speak Spanish at home and identify as Hispanic or Latino. The South Gate market, which incorporates the Northgate Mercado concept, brings diverse, fresh foods and flavors to the community, all in a culturally authentic setting. To engage Spanish-speaking customers, the market has more than 2,700 bilingual nutritional tags so that customers can make informed, healthy decisions about their purchases.
These efforts align with Los Angeles County’s Sustainability Plan to develop a “sustainable and just food system that enhances access to affordable, local and healthy food.” This goal is particularly important in an area where one-fifth of residents live below the poverty level.
Northgate González Market is actively recruiting from the surrounding community with a goal of hiring more than 200 full- and part-time associates. It’s also provided more than $17,000 to local schools and nonprofits through donations and scholarships.
Driving action in response to COVID-19
In response to the pandemic, Northgate González Market began several initiatives to support the community. First, the company donated more than $650,000 to support the community with food insecurity and in donations to local nonprofits. It also engaged customers to round up their purchases to donate to local food banks and pantries, resulting in more than $85,000 in donations. Customers could also choose to purchase a bag of groceries that was filled with essentials—poultry, bread, milk, toiletries—to supply families in need.
Throughout Southern California, Northgate González Market sponsors weekly and monthly food distribution events. In South Gate, it hosted two food distribution events at the store location: a Back-to-School event in August 2020 and an event on Mexico Mother’s Day holiday in May 2021. The market also co-sponsored a monthly food distribution to provide for more than 500 food insecure families.
Committing to long-term community efforts
Beyond the market’s COVID-19 response and health initiatives, Northgate González Market is committed to serving the community for the long term. For more than 20 years, the company’s foundation has supported philanthropy efforts to provide thousands of dollars in scholarships to deserving students. Additionally, the market partners with local nonprofit organizations and schools to understand community needs so that it can tailor its donations appropriately.
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