On Saturday December 2nd, 2017, our Live Well Community Market Program team implemented a complete market makeover at Rema Halal Foods in the City of El Cajon. The LWMP, along with Alaa Alsadoon, owner of Rema Halal Foods, hosted 75 volunteers to complete tasks such as: exterior painting, stenciling, constructing benches, installing bike racks, creating a garden space, and more. This project engaged community members, shoppers, local community-based organizations, and small businesses. The overall goal of this project was to improve the market’s interior and exterior to attract more shoppers, improve and promote access to affordable healthy foods, and build on existing economic development activities in the City of El Cajon.

Project Background:

  • UC San Diego’s Center for Community Health worked with Rema Halal Foods for over a year through our Live Well Community Market Program, which is a project funded by the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency.
  • The Live Well Community Market Program’s main goal is to work with small community/neighborhood markets to improve and promote access to healthy foods. One of the ways we do this is by helping markets redesign, renovate, and reorganize their spaces to better serve their community of local shoppers.
  • The façade improvement plans started in March, with pro bono graphic design work offered by students in San Diego State University’s School of Art and Design. From there, we worked with Rema Halal stakeholders like the market’s shoppers and the building owner to host a community visioning meeting to vet and build on the designs to include more cultural and social gathering elements for the business plaza and to benefit the nearby residential neighborhood.
  • This project was funded and supported by a collection of hard dollar and in-kind resources coming from: County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, UCSD Center for Community Health, Rema Halal Foods, the business plaza building owner, San Diego State University’s School of Art and Design, UWEAST, Creative Lab 1, Outside the Lens, Rucha Chitnis, License to Freedom, Newcomers Support and Development, Habitat for Humanity, Zarzour Restaurant, El Cajon Resident Leadership Academy, and Rooted in Place Landscape Architecture.

Special thanks to our UCSD CCH Program Coordinator, Nehmo Hassan, Community Health Specialist, Mazen Ali, and our Director of Youth and Community Mobilization Programs, Amina Sheik Mohamed, for organizing and leading this community building project! 


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