Lodi deli La Capilla Market has been recognized by San Joaquin County Public Health for its commitment to providing customers fresh produce and healthy snacks at its market.

On Tuesday, county officials announced that La Capilla, located at 725 S. Cherokee Lane, received silver status out of gold, silver or bronze tiers for the Refresh San Joaquin initiative, which was designed to improve the health of residents in disadvantaged communities that rely on corner stores and markets for groceries.

“They (SJCPH staff) reached out to us and educated us about the importance of putting fresh vegetables and fruits in front of the store, so customers can see the produce and be more mindful of their shopping,” La Capilla store manager Gabriel Barajas said.

The purpose of the program is to increase the availability of healthier food options in markets and minimize the marketing of unhealthy products, according to Daniel Kim, project director and co-coordinator for San Joaquin County Opioid Safety Coalition.

The refresh initiative is affiliated with the United States Department of Agriculture’s SNAP-Ed program, which established evidence-based obesity prevention programs and advocates for the consumption of more fruits, vegetables and whole grains through the use of hands-on activities, food demonstrations and tastings.

“The refresh initiative is a joint project that is centered around healthy retail,” Kim said. “We help business owners install shelving for fresh produce and we help them get grants for refrigeration.”

Many of the stores SJCPH has worked with are based in south Stockton. La Capilla was the first store that piloted the program in Lodi.

“We are looking to expand our involvement in Lodi and other parts of the county including Manteca and Tracy,” Kim said.

SJCPH aims to raise health standards in communities with high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease that are the result of bad eating habits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lifestyle changes like focusing on a nutritious diet and getting more exercise can prevent or delay chronic diseases as well as ease symptoms and complications for those who already have them.

Barajas said La Capilla was motivated to implement healthy changes to the store after learning about the county's health statistics.

“We want our customers to know that we are conscious of their health, and if this helps them make better (dietary) choices we are all for it,” Barajas said.

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