Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.
Well, as you know, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP, as many of you know it, was formed partly in response to the horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Illinois. The NAACP since then has played a critical part in this nation’s civil rights movement. Many of you are aware of many activities that the NAACP pursues both nationally and locally. My branch in Stockton, California covers all of San Joaquin County, and they had the opportunity to engage a group of interns from San Joaquin Delta College who were attending a social justice class under Professor Evan Wade. I was pleased to participate in the short internship program and as a result, we decided to have some of the interns come on the Jali Podcast to discuss the project that they worked on.
The project was advocating for healthy options at the checkout of a grocery store. And maybe you will be as surprised as I was to learn that there really is little to no ordinances that encourage grocery stores to have healthy options at the checkout. I know some stores do it voluntarily, but there are many stores that do not. And we all know that feeling when we stroll through the grocery store, navigating the aisles with good intentions, carefully selecting fresh produce, wholesome grains and nutrient packed foods for a balanced diet. But suddenly, as we approach the checkout lane, temptation strikes. And heaven forbid I have a small child with me, that’s the perfect type to peruse the candy as we stand there waiting for the checkout line to move. So today I’m happy to have a diverse set of students who participated in the internship and they are here to discuss this important topic.
I have Josefina Gomez, who you’ll hear first, and then you’ll hear a variety of other voices. Siena Geach, Tania Mora, Calvin Brice, and I’m pleased to have Lajuana Bivens. She is the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference Director, along with Robert “Bobby” Bivens, who is the president of the NAACP Stockton Branch. Welcome.
I am excited to have a conversation this week with a number of Delta College students, San Joaquin County, and we are excited to talk about healthy options at the checkout. So they have done an internship with the NAACP and Stockton branch, and we are excited to hear about your perspectives on healthy options at the checkout. I was actually surprised when we started talking about this, that California is not more compliant with trying to ensure that people have healthy options. So we want to talk about what that means, what your experience is, and you all give us some perspective on your interaction and your thoughts about healthy options at the checkout of a grocery store.
So we’re talking about how do we make sure that we have healthy options? So I’m just going to kick it off and you guys feel free to jump in here as we talk, but let’s just talk about why do we even need healthy options at the checkout? Because I think most people go to the grocery store or to a convenience store and they’re buying things. And of course my grandson always has some piece of candy he wants at the checkout. But why do you think this is so important for you personally to talk about healthy options at the checkout?
Josefina Gomez: So I’m happy to get it started. I know from my own experience, some of the biggest struggles has been when I was raising my children and going through the checkout. Grocery shopping with little ones is always a bit of a challenge and very often, you try and plan everything, hope they nap a little in the cart, do all kinds of things, try and avoid those general aisles where really don’t need anything or zip through them quickly.
But when you’re at the checkout, number one, it’s at the end of your trip. So usually the kids are at the end of their rope, right? They’ve been patient the whole trip at the grocery store, now they’re at the checkout stand and they are done. And unfortunately you are a captive audience. When you’re in the checkout lane, you can’t just move along when they are looking at those bright-colored packages of salty and sugary sweets.
And so it’s really a challenge for a lot of parents not to give in at that point and just say, okay, we made it through the whole store. I’ll go ahead and get Junior something just to be able to not have a meltdown at the check stand. And that’s a really terrible position to be in as a parent because we all know we shouldn’t be giving in and buying those things, but we go to desperate places to try and get through those final moments. Or just as bad, we ourselves grab that candy bar and eat it for ourselves. And now we’re modeling really bad eating habits for our children.
So I really think parents would truly benefit to have some healthier options in that checkout lane. At least one lane that they know they can go to where even if their little ones are about to have that final meltdown, they can have something nutritious to hand to them that they can nibble on those final moments when they’re going through the check stands.
Melyssa Barrett: Great, great. Yes, Josefina, appreciate that. How about you, Siena? Any thoughts about your perspective?
Siena Geach: So I don’t have kids myself, so I don’t know that side of the experience, but Josefina is speaking, there might be some gum, there might be even cigarette lighters, but it doesn’t have healthy choices. That option isn’t necessarily present. So you have the bad stuff but not the good stuff. And I think it’s unfortunate. I can speak as someone who’s a working student, I’m really busy and sometimes I don’t have time to meal prep or get ready and have that food available for me when I’m going from work to home or from work to school or school to work or wherever way I’m going.
And if I were to stop in the grocery store to get something to eat, I have to go all the way back. I have to explore the aisles. I have to look particularly for something that’s healthy and I think that is not the best setup. I think it would be nice that people have those options right there, right where they can pay for them so that it’s available for those people who want to make good choices, but their choices are being limited by their time or by their energy and the case with kids or whatever their situation may be.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, definitely a disincentive. How about you, Tania?
Tania Mora: I definitely agree with all of you. I think that a healthy diet is definitely essential not only to the human body, but overall to the function of the mind, the body. The body is able to develop strong bones, fight diseases, just perform physically much better and maintain that wellness when you do eat healthier and you have a healthier diet.
So I think overall it’s an important aspect of not only who you are, but just overall, they do say you are what you eat. I always laugh at that, but it’s essentially true and I feel like for the human body to function properly, it’s essential to take care of what you put inside of it because ultimately affects every part of who you are.
Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. So with that, I know you all have also been working on just advocating for healthy options at the checkout. So what kind of advocacy efforts are you all looking at and what does that include?
Josefina Gomez: Well, one of the things I became aware of was a study that they did in 2021 where they looked at, they did a huge nationwide survey and they looked at how people responded in regards to their shopping habits at the checkout lane. And it was a very large sample. And one thing that they did find was that a large population that is doing this checkout lane purchasing are individuals that are low income and a lot of people of color.
So what the study is really looking at is whether or not there’s potential with these healthy checkouts policies in place to really move the needle in regards to nutritional equity when it comes to our disproportionately impacted populations. There was a very large collaboration in San Joaquin County that looked at the data locally and within our region here in San Joaquin County, we actually have slightly higher rates of obesity and diabetes than there is across the state of California.
So it’s really critical within our area to come up with some solutions to improve our health options. Now within the local study people said, well, what do you think would be helpful for you? And the respondents really focused on having good options for exercise, for fitness. And I do think that’s really important, they go hand in hand not only what you put in your body, but also how you take care of your body in terms of exercise and strengthening your body. But that focus was not part of this overall group. And so given that there’s some other locales that have looked at the healthy checkout option, we are looking at creating a similar ordinance and I think one of our other participants can give a little more background on those other ordinances within the state of California.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Jump on in. What is a healthy ordinance? What does that even mean? Do you guys want to talk through that, Siena or Tania?
Siena Geach: Yeah. In our research we basically saw, there was two cities in California that have done this already. First was Berkeley, then followed by the city of Paris, which is in southern California and is a bit inland. And both of them had, first of all, the parameter of store size. So that is something that we really talked a lot about with the other students because we don’t want to negatively impact small stores that maybe are having these checkouts because they can’t afford to get the better product or they don’t know how to and they don’t have the resources to figure that out. So that was a big consideration for us. So in these ordinances, their standard was 2,500 square feet, so that was a consideration. And they also listed some potential healthy checkout foods and they also had standards within those checkout foods for what made them healthy based on nutritional facts.
And so what we came up with was that we are requesting an ordinance that essentially encourages every grocery store to start with just one lane where they have these healthy options available. So then the customers will be able to choose that lane if they want to. And then by having that one lane, they can kind of get used to this idea and then in time see what the customer new response is. And we are hoping that because of the natural inclination to try a new thing, if it means bettering yourself, that it’ll encourage the stores to then realize it wasn’t so hard to get that one lane. Hopefully we can get more or if we can just get a different ordinance over time. But some of the things that we discussed for being the healthy food choices were things like fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, cured proteins and veggie chips.
So we’re thinking very much shelf stable foods that are healthy and that do have nutritional value, but that can also be recognizable to people and people are going to want to seek out. And that even within that, have a variety because you have the proteins with the nuts and the cured proteins, but you also have vitamins and fruit. And so there’s a lot of different options within choosing healthy, and I think a lot of people don’t necessarily realize that. So that was our thought process, is to really follow in the steps of those ordinances in targeting the bigger stores first and also asking to start small and then to hopefully grow with time.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s fantastic. So I know when we talk about healthy foods, most of the kids are probably rolling their eyes. But I think a lot of times we think eating nutritious is so challenging because of all the disincentives that we have in a grocery store. Unless you’re walking around the outside of the grocery store, you’re probably getting something that might be stuffed with preservatives or sodium or some other thing. And so Tania, do you want to give a little bit more about some of the nutritional values we’re talking about?
Tania Mora: Hello everyone, my name is Tania. So I’m currently attending Delta College right now, just pursuing my law certificate. I do have my paralegal certificate and I wanted to go for my bachelor’s, but I just kind of wanted to expand my knowledge in this field. So I decided to go after my law certificate. So I’m hoping to either take the bar exam next year or the following year and attend law school or get my bachelor’s and then take the bar exam and then go to law school. I’m not sure yet. I’m still in the midst of all of that. But I was born in Los Angeles, taken to Mexico and raised there until I was about five years old. And over there definitely my meals consisted of rice and beans. There’s low paying jobs that made it difficult to get by in the economy.
We lived surrounded by a lot of active drug cartels, living in overpacked homes. And I grew up fruit vending with my family. So I grew up cutting fruit next to the beach. So food to me, I think started at a very young age for me personally in poverty. And not only that, but obviously affected the way that I saw the world growing up when I moved to East LA and I saw the fruit vendors getting just a lot of police brutality towards them. So my heart kind of went out to those certain individual group of people in society. And the reason that it kind of ties into everything that I’m going to explain is because over time I was able to see different aspects of my growth and my diet based off of what I was raised with, based off of when I came to the US.
And there was a lot of new things for me over here, a lot of healthier food options, lots of different options overall, but I’ll get back on the topic. Sorry about that. So I did do some research for healthy checkout options at the grocery store. And I did see, I couldn’t put them in categories, I just didn’t want to take a whole hour.
So I’ll kind of chunk it down a little bit. So I kind of give an overall. So for the healthy foods and benefits overall for fruits, I have apples. They’re a good source of fiber, vitamin C. Bananas, potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber as well. Avocados are good fiber vitamin C and potassium as well. Oranges, vitamin C, fiber. Strawberries, vitamin C. For meats, I lean towards two different meats. Lean beef would be a good source of protein. Chicken breasts would as well be a good source of protein. For nuts and seeds, almonds, which I didn’t know before, but it actually helps manage the heart rate when a person is under stress, which is pretty cool for me. Pretty cool, fun fact, I learned for me. It helps improve thinking as well. As chia seeds, they provide fiber, magnesium, and also calcium as well.
Walnuts provide fiber and various vitamins and minerals as well. Asparagus provides vitamin K. For the veggies, we have some broccoli, my favorite with some cheese, some source of fiber and vitamin C. And yeah, I have a whole list as well, I’ll throw in three more. So for fish and seafood, salmon contains protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Shrimp, source of protein and vitamin B12. So just different things that I was able to research. And when I did do my research, I also found… Okay, here we go. So I found nutrition charts based off of age groups. So the California Department of Aging nutrition chart, which you can find on aging.ca.gov shows a nutrition chart of ages between I believe 50 year old female or male and older, different meal plans that they can pursue to have this healthy diet.
I also have the California Department of Social Services. For that website, it’s the EFR.gov and that also has nutrition charts, meal patterns for infants, ages, birth through 11 months, ages one through 18 years old and as well adults aching and over. It all provides a nutritional part based on that.
And then lastly, I was able to do some research on organizations that advocate for healthy nutritional diets. And I found two that kind of really caught my eye. The first one was the Department of Education, the nutrition services division. They administer the United States Department of Agriculture, the food and nutrition services and the child nutrition program and the food distribution in California. There’s also another organization called Nourish California, which really caught my eye because it works with communities to guarantee that children, older adults, immigrants and all citizens in California with low income that can access the food they need and they want at no cost to them. So that really caught my eye when I did research because like I said, I come from that background. I have family in that background. I love where I came from because it’s who I am now and it’s always going to be a part of who I am. So I definitely like to advocate for my people and all people.
Melyssa Barrett: We are blessed to have our president of the NAACP Stockton branch with us today. And she talked a lot about nutrition and healthy diet, but why is the NAACP focused on healthy options at the checkout?
Robert “Bobby” Bivens: Well, thank you Melyssa, and good evening everybody. Good to hear you, good to hear all of this good information that the interns are bringing forth, and I’m very pleased with what you’re doing. You can be the ambassadors in our communities to make sure that these options take place. The reason that we need to have healthy options has been spoken to by each of the interns. But in reality, unless we change policy or have policies put in place in our communities, then that will not happen. And so our task and chore is to make an effort to get the city of Stockton to put in place a policy that will require stores to have healthy options at checkout. And along with the interns and others, looked at different stores, different types of stores, different size of stores, and just to see what they have.
And there is one place that probably most people don’t think of because most people are not participating in the program, but I stumbled upon a WIC store and everything in there is a healthy option. And I was happy to see that and talk with the store manager because these are low income people that are eligible to receive food products from the WIC store. And I didn’t even know that they had such a thing. And I think it’s a relatively new concept. But by getting the city council to put in place a policy, give a fair and reasonable amount of time for the implementation of it, and then stepping it up gradually will improve the quality of life. And I believe it was Josefina that said earlier that in our county we have higher numbers of diabetes, of asthma, of cardiovascular disease and obesity than is recorded in the state of California.
So this is a must in our community and the more people that we can reach out to and get engaged and involved is important. Now to date, we’ve gotten thousands of cards signed by citizens within the city that we will take when we go to the council to do a presentation on the implementation of an ordinance and give them what the wording of the ordinance should be like. But that also speaks to the fact that there’s a large degree of support in the community for having these options and these choices rather than being stuck with the things that we like that are not good for us at the cash registers. So this is really health-wise important. The public health over time has made various efforts to improve the quality of health in the community. Various organizations within the community have done so. And we’ve been engaged engaging with some of those that we know have a history of trying to change.
But to date, none of those have really made an effort to get the city council to put in place an actual policy that will guarantee or at least increase the opportunities for healthy food choices at the cash register. And we’re not trying to cause pain to anybody. We’re not asking folks to go out and do extensive remodeling of their stores. And there are some programs that exist that will also assist some of the smallest stores to be able to keep fresh fruit and vegetables in their store.
What do you do in the case that there’s only one store that has only one aisle like many of our corner stores do? We will be asking them to at least change what people are looking at as they walk out of the door. Change, move cigarettes, move liquor, move sodas and candy and cupcakes and all of those things and replace them with other choices that people can make and just put them a little bit, a few feet over. So it’s not right there as you’re walking out the door. But the primary thing is to get public policy chains and that is how we get things put in place on a permanent basis rather than just, we did it this time and okay, it’s over. What now? We’ll go back to what we were doing before.
Melyssa Barrett: Awesome. Thank you President Bivens. We also are blessed to have your wife in the California Hawaii state, one of the state directors, if I remember, is that your title now? So we are pleased to have you here, Ms. Lajuana Bivens. So how do you want to add into this conversation? I know healthy options is so important to you as well.
Lajuana Bivens: Wow. I am so excited to hear from our NAACP interns. They have done a marvelous job of researching the issues and coming to similar conclusions that we have a health crisis in our community. And I am very, very, very passionate about the ability to have a choice at checkout. I love what the students stated because that is exactly where we’re trying to go, one checkout aisle at a time. We’re not asking for all of the aisles at one time, but let’s transition into it.
We have had so many focus groups. President Bivens has led us to meet with focus groups throughout the city who are coming to the same conclusion. And as he stated, we have thousands and thousands of cards from people who have indicated yes, yes, yes. I want a healthy option at checkout. So I just applaud everyone. I was here to support our interns, but the work is still in progress. We have a lot to do and we are going to get the job done. Thank you so much for having me.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, absolutely. Well, and I’m going to toss it back over to the interns right now and just talk… Oh, sorry, go ahead, President Bivens?
Robert “Bobby” Bivens: I do want to say that this has been a short, time scheduled intent effort and they have done an outstanding job and we’re thankful also to Professor Wade from Delta College, but I mean for them to have achieved the amount of work that they’re achieving in basically a four-week timeframe is phenomenal. So I will say to them a shout-out, thank you and you’ve done and you’ve been great. You are great and hopefully you’ll stick with us and we’ll see this through the end.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, shout out to Professor Evan Wade for sure. And internships, I’m used to the ones where it might be the whole summer. These folks had just a short period of time, a few weeks, and they have flipped over backwards to make sure that they got all the information so that they could adequately advocate for healthy options at the checkout. So I want to just toss it back over to the interns at this point to kind of talk about what it is that you want to say to people to really advocate for healthy options at the checkout. Because I think what happens a lot of times is we present something to the city council and maybe there’s not a whole lot of support. There’s not people there actually talking with you on the topic. So what do they need to know in order to engage? Aside from the fact that people want, I think to be healthy, but it’s sometimes really challenging.
So are there things that you all would say to people to really advocate for healthy options at the checkout? Because like I said at the beginning, I’m actually really surprised that there’s only two cities in the whole state of California that advocate a policy, that actually have passed a policy on healthy options at the checkout. You might be able to find healthy options if you’re at Whole Foods or Sprouts or something like that, but a lot of the other stores, it’s just not as readily available. So what else can we say to engage people about healthy options at the checkout?
Josefina Gomez: Very often I think people think healthy options means expensive. That’s code for pricey stuff. Even the two stores that you just mentioned, Sprouts and the whole Foods don’t tend to necessarily jump in people’s minds if you’re trying to watch your budget necessarily. They tend to market towards a more upward bound, financially secure population. And in reality, so much of the healthy food actually is some of the best bargain you can get. And a lot of it comes in its own packaging. A banana, an apple, you don’t have to put any kind of preservative or anything on it. It comes in its own packaging and it’s almost always a matter of cents. It’s not even a dollar for one of those things. Whereas people won’t think twice about going into the 99 Cents store or the Dollar Tree and buying a bag of apple chips.
And to me that just seems so counterintuitive because it’s kind of good that they want to buy the apple chips, but you’re paying for that processing, the preservatives, the packaging, when actually just buying the apple is cheaper and it’s healthier.
And so I think one of the things we really need to do is educate people with all that data that Tania was sharing about the nutritional value of some really good food doesn’t mean you’re breaking your budget. In fact, it’s probably cheaper than a lot of the things. If you go into the grocery store, a lot of those candy bars or Red Bulls, et cetera, are well over $1 or $2. So that needs to be something that we educate our community about, that healthy doesn’t mean expensive, and we’re not even talking about the cost of your health. As someone who’s battled health issues related to weight, it impacts your heart, it impacts every part of you. Diabetes, all those extra expenses that people go through, battling health conditions associated with obesity, those are potential cost savings if we can just get everybody on board and we need to make it easier for people.
Food is everywhere. It’s tempting everywhere. And if we can just provide them with one place that they know is a safe haven at the grocery store to go through and not have to fight temptation, I think that’s a really important message.
Melyssa Barrett: Great point. Tania, I think you were going to say something.
Tania Mora: So I’ve been a part of my church in San Diego called The Rock Church for about 25… Since I was 14, so about a decade, a little over that. And what we would do is we would have food distribution. It started off just at their thrift store making pancakes for the homeless, and then we would set up a microsite for the church there. And then over time we would do food distributions throughout the city once we started building other churches. So now we have a food distribution program where we reach out to different advocates for healthy foods so we can feed our community. So we have them in City Heights, we have them at Point Loma, and every month, every second, fourth of the month, if you guys ever want to look it up or you guys are in town, it’s called the Rock Church Food Distribution Program online.
So that’s one way that I try to advocate because I know that I can’t change the whole world, but I can definitely change what I see. I keep water bottles in my car when I see the homeless and just different things that I can do as my person so that ultimately that change can boomerang and then someone else can help that person and like that.
And then I think another thing is, I’m a PE coach at a middle school in Sacramento when I’m not in San Diego. We took a break for the summer. So I’m an art teacher and PE teacher for middle school as well as second-graders. That’s the main ages that I teach. And a lot of them reach out to programs with… It’s usually the afterschool program. A lot of them reach out to them, different programs around the community, and the children usually have healthy snacks. They have an apple with crackers or something like that. So I always try to advocate to the kids as well, always tell them to drink water or to eat a banana after we do PE, like 30 minutes after and the cool downs and all that good stuff. So I try to advocate within my own community and just try to be that difference that I want to see ultimately.
Melyssa Barrett: Oh, great. All right. Siena, round us out.
Siena Geach: Yeah, I mean, I suppose I just want to echo all the different things that people have been saying. As Mr. Bivens pointed out, this is a big issue for our community, for Stockton’s community, like our statistics on obesity and diabetes and heart disease, those are worse than other places. Not maybe significantly, but you still don’t want to be on that side of the spectrum. You don’t want to have that association, of the people in Stockton are unhealthy.
And as a person who’s like… As people a part of this community, we should want to be healthier for ourselves. But it’s important, like Tania was saying, to be advocating for the different people in the community. For example, the children Tania works with, they are too young to advocate for themselves. A lot of the people who feel like they can’t afford to eat healthy maybe are the same people who can’t take off work to go to the city council meeting, or they are doing a different thing at that time.
They’re taking care of their kids, whatever it may be. So I think it’s important to use our voices to stand in for the community when we can because not everyone can advocate for themselves. And just on top of that, it’s like you were saying, there’s this idea that healthy food is more expensive, and I think that’s because it is in those places like Sprouts, like Whole Foods, where those stores are in certain neighborhoods, and I don’t feel like our community should feel boxed in by that.
I have to drive 15 minutes to get something healthy. Like that shouldn’t be what it is. Anybody should be able to have access to those kinds of food and just have that choice. And I feel like that is what the city needs to understand, is that by creating a city ordinance, you are making it a citywide thing, which then means it can happen throughout the city and we won’t have these pockets where some people have access to this nutritional wonderful food, and other people have their options totally limited. And I think that is just the goal is to have that equity because everybody in the community deserves to have access to it and that they deserve to at least have that choice.
Melyssa Barrett: Awesome. Awesome. Very well said. Mrs. Bivens?
Lajuana Bivens: I just wanted to conclude by also just restating that we do want everyone to have access to healthy foods, and this is what the Healthy Food at Checkout campaign is all about. The NAACP is very happy to come and make a presentation to any groups out there that are listening this evening because this is detrimental to our health. You can contact us by our email, which is Stocktonnaacp@gmail.com, or you can call our office at area code 209-466-7000.
Community, we need your help. We need your help. We have a crisis related to our health, and we all need to come together as a community to advocate, to save lives. Thank you so much.
Melyssa Barrett: Well said. I do want to make one shameless plug, because I said I would, for harvesterfarms.org, which is a local nonprofit aiming to make Stocktonian local produce accessible to the community. And literally, if you call them, they will come and give you fruit, donate it to the food bank. It’s an amazing program. I didn’t know anything about it, but was glad to hear it. As President Bivens mentioned, there are some great programs going on. Great nonprofits doing great work. So I just want to give a shout-out to Harvester Farms. So President Bivens, since you are here, I will give you the last word.
Robert “Bobby” Bivens: The last word is we need you to support and show up at the city council meeting at the designated time, of which we don’t have yet. We will be making a presentation to the legislative committee, but the whole council has to vote on this, and so we’ll be reaching out again. We’ll be sending out notices and asking people to come out and speak up on their own behalf, speak up and stand up. This is a civil rights issue. This is advocacy for our lives and our future.
So thank you all. God bless you for the work that you’ve done, and I am very, very happy. Like I said, the interns really did some phenomenal work at an extremely short period of time. So summer school is not the ideal time as we’ve learned, but they made it happen. So I want to give you a round of applause to them. Thank you.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, absolutely. Well, I just want to thank you all for showing up and showing out to get some attention on this significant issue. We didn’t talk a lot about social determinants of health and how that even plays into this, but when President Bivens talks about this being a civil rights issue, you can imagine how it’s compounded as we talk about all those different aspects and perspectives of things that have gone on for so long to continue to impact those communities.
So I just want to thank you all for joining me on the Jali Podcast. I am excited to see what you all do and how this comes about, not only for the city of Stockton, but really for the state of California and the United States. I think this is a crisis that doesn’t just hit Stockton, but I think as much as we can create some leadership in the space on advocating for healthy options at the checkout, I hope we will see things continue to move forward.
So stay tuned for that. Check in with the NAACP. I know they’re always looking for members. They didn’t pay me to say that, but you can also become a member of the NAACP. So please join us in the fight for healthy options at the checkout, support your local city council, and we look forward to hearing more about the progress of healthy options at the checkout.
Lajuana Bivens: Thank you guys. God bless you all. Good to be here. Good to have y’all.
Melyssa Barrett: Thanks, God, safely. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate guys.
Calvin Brice: He’s like, Kyle, you’re coming out tomorrow. I said, no, I just finished up all my classes and my family is performing. I’m going to hang out and have dinner with the family. He’s like, oh, yeah, do that, do that, do that. Because that’s what went out. But that was directly connected to, that’s what our surgery was behind. They’re like, you don’t have no drugs. They didn’t check my blood for three days straight. Like we looking for the dope. And so they said, African brother in, he was the last doctor that comes in to talk to me one on one, and I think it’s something that we can’t find through your blood. I said, man, what do you think it is? He said, you stressed. He said, what’s your schedule like? And that was the first time I can show you right now, I have a regular print calendar.
I have the kind you put up and you write up all the dates. Then I have a small calendar in my bag. I don’t know how to just sit still. I don’t know how to work. I’m like, that’s what God gave me this energy for, so I’m not going to waste it. He’s like, how much time are you spending with your family? I hear your mission, but how much time are you spending with your children, your mom, your dad? How much time are you spending enjoying your nieces and nephews? And we had a really deep conversation because during the pandemic, a lot of folks start passing away, start transcending. So he’s like, how much time are you spending on right now? Just the moment.
Melyssa Barrett: Right?
Calvin Brice: Because you sound like you focused on stuff that ain’t even here yet. So you’ve been ignoring your health, you’ve been ignoring you. And I said, me and my lady, we just separated after being together for 10 years. And we did it amicably. But once everybody was out of the house, it just took its toll. I was like, oh, this is what, I don’t work for money. I work for my family. I don’t work so I can drive the fanciest car. It don’t matter if my kids can’t be in it with me. So that’s where that transition, I said, was my personal life had taken us a toll. And again, just a microcosm, it was the choices I had to make health wise. I started ignoring them, not eating. I don’t drink, so I’m not eating, I’m not drinking. So your drug is work.
Your drug is to distract yourself from the things that you feel like you can’t control and solve right now. And I say all that to say, I think that’s what happens. All of that life stuff, that’s the checkout line. We got to make real quick decisions in the process of getting ready to pay for what you came for. That’s how life really worked. In the process of you trying to get your degree or trying to achieve that position at your job. You got a marriage at home, you got children, other things you trying to… The whole reason why you even trying to be successful at this job. That’s how I look at going, how we joke about it, don’t go to the grocery store hungry is the same as, don’t go looking for a job when you broke. You know what I’m saying?
Melyssa Barrett: Have a job before you go to the next.
Calvin Brice: And because just going to take what’s there. So if you go to the grocery store hungry, oh yeah, get a Snickers son. Grab that soda because we’re hungry. We want to fulfill ourselves right now. And they take advantage of that in the checkout line. They know that’s what most people don’t go grocery shopping for, where they’re out to eat in the moment. They do that in the checkout line. I’ll grab a bag of chips, I’ll grab a Snickers, I’ll grab a soda. That’s all right there.
Melyssa Barrett: Because I can’t wait until I get home and they cook. I need a bridge. Right?
Calvin Brice: And so it’s like, how do we address the psychology of us? How do we talk about what we are going through? The corporation? I’m in charge. Liberty thought. I’m liberated. Like, nah, man, no. If I only got a dollar and I choose to go to McDonald’s to get something off the 99 cent menu versus spending that dollar to give me a orange, that’s on me.
Melyssa Barrett: Right.
Calvin Brice: Yeah. Those are the choices that either give us freedom or tie us back into the system. I just went to bring it all the way back to. That’s why your checkout line is so important. Because if you know that the poison that they feed you is how they control. So if you want to change anything, and you can tell them, Hey, if you want to eat correctly, what is the one program they took from the Black Panther party that they still have to this day? The food program. The breakfast program. If you feed people correctly, they will follow. You clothe people. They will follow you. You house them, they will follow you. So that whole mission right there is deeper. That’s why when I heard, I was like, Ooh, okay. That’s a gut shot right there. Because you’re talking about people deciding to educate themselves to feed themselves and their families.
To be healthier always means that you’re going to live longer. You’re going to make other healthier decisions. All of that healthy checkout line is the grocery store. A hospital is an extension of what you believe your community is going to become. You see what I’m saying? So that’s why I say, when I first heard it, I was like, Ooh, I was intrigued. But it always frightens me when our young people are just completely focused. So I think we have to be eloquent and we have to articulate it, but we need to do it from a standpoint where we’re not being passive, or I’m not saying this to you because I’m going to keep coming to the store. I’m saying this to you because this is the introduction of our relationship ending in the way that it’s been going.
I ain’t saying, I don’t want to have a relationship with grocery stores. I’m saying, this relationship is toxic. You’re intentionally feeding me bad information. You’re intentionally giving me bad. And I’m not saying this the words, I’m talking information that’s in the food. When I bite it, that information that’s going in my DNA, that’s bad information. You’re well aware that it’s bad information. We don’t have to bring holistic doctors out. We don’t got to… You guys already have the information. You have to submit it in order for you to even be considered to be on the shelf. So that’s why I say, I think if we just get to the heart of it for us and say, Hey, the only reason that most of my folks is going to the store, Melyssa, and buying stuff, they don’t know no better. That’s it. That’s all. So just if… You know.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, it’s an addiction. Sugar is an addiction. Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.