November 15, 2019

This LA bodega sells only healthy food—and nothing’s more than $5

Here are three stories about renewal to inspire you as you head into the weekend.

LaRayia’s Bodega offers healthy salads, soups, and snacks that feature fresh ingredients, all for an affordable price. Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people are creating in their communities. This week we’re featuring three ways nonprofits are helping people and building community. What are the innovative ideas in your hometown? Tell us at

Bodega and Belonging: Healthy food is expensive and often not as accessible in low-income neighborhoods. One Los Angeles-based entrepreneur is trying to change that with a local bodega. LaRayia Gaston has filled her shop, named LaRayia’s Bodega, with healthy, yet affordable options. What’s even better? Everything costs $5 or less.

The shop opened in August 2019, and is made possible by Gaston’s nonprofit Love Without Reason. In the few months since it opened, Gaston says she has seen a lot of enthusiasm from customers.

“This is about giving people a chance to have fresh foods,” she told the The New York Times. “There are people who want salads that don’t have the means. I have war vets that are 60 years old that are like, ‘Give me arugula today, baby.’”

Gaston specifically chose the word bodega for the sense of community it imparts. And she works to build that sense of community by hosting neighborhood events from birthday parties to open mic nights. Next on the agenda: job training for veterans and homeless individuals.

Nonprofit News: The Salt Lake Tribune is now a nonprofit. The daily newspaper announced they were applying to become a nonprofit in May of 2019. The IRS approved the decision on Oct. 29. What does that mean for the newspaper? They’re now accepting donations from readers and organizations, like a recent endowment from The Utah Journalism Foundation. But the newspaper’s editor, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, asserts that their not much will be different about their content and commitment to journalism.

“The integrity of our reporting and our values as a news organization won’t change, but we will engage with the community in new ways and ask for their support,” said Napier-Pearce.

Start Me Up: When veterans end their service career, they are often faced with the difficult choice of what to do next. Navy veteran-turned-entrepreneur Todd Connor knows this difficulty first hand. As the founder and CEO of Bunker Labs, his mission is to aid his fellow veterans during this crucial turning point.

The nonprofit, based in Chicago, helps veterans and their families become entrepreneurs and launch their own small businesses by providing them with all the necessary tools—training, funding, mentoring, and networking. Bunker Labs has now grown to 28 different chapters across the country and has helped these veteran-owned startups raise more than $80 million.

“If we can unlock their (veterans’) potential, we can have profound economic impact on this country that’s much bigger than the vet community,” Connor told The Herald News.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.