With Love celebrates one year of community partnership

With Love Market and Café’s apple green walls are adorned with the words, “Our community is beautiful, authentic, hard-working, strong, diverse” and their Spanish equivalent, “Nuestra comunidad es bella, autentica, trabajadora, fuerte and diversa.

The organization celebrated its one-year anniversary on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring games, delicious food and a celebration of the good accomplished in the community.

The market and cafe, located on South Vermont Avenue, kills three birds with one stone — it’s a market, cafe and non-profit community program that aims to eliminate food deserts and foster community development in South Los Angeles. 

Every product in the market provides locally sourced organic produce, meats and dairy. Its cafe provides healthy selections like sandwiches, smoothies and tea made with only fresh ingredients. Its non-profit, With Love Community programs, offers free classes that educate people on “healthy eating, child development, exercise and other life skills … enabling our community to thrive,” according to the official website.

Not the typical cafe, With Love is a reflection of the past, present and future of South Los Angeles. The store is decorated according to South Central culture, originality and style with a mission of making the local community a better and healthier place to live. The cafe and market also provide space on the first and second floors, in addition to the outside patio, to relax, socialize and study.

All of its proceeds are promised to be reinvested to the local community, whether by providing jobs and internships for L.A. locals or by training and empowering residents.

Andrew McDowell, the founder and CEO of the market, devoted years to researching the needs of South Los Angeles before starting this social entrepreneurial venture, which began with a Kickstarter campaign.

“We’re trying to prove that communities like ours, which is very diverse but yet lower income, deserve, want and can sustain better quality products,” McDowell said. “It’s a proof of [the] concept that a community can sustain a business like ours that provides  a higher resource or product.”

The CEO said that he’d also like to expand services and programs by bringing local produce and organic groceries to other places in the near future.

Last month, the market launched its first free library, With Love Little Library, a collection of books that are free to customers without restrictions.

When asked about the future of With Love, McDowell said that he hopes to unite the USC and Los Angeles communities.

“We’re just trying to expand our offerings to meet the real needs of the community — more exercise classes, cooking classes and more resources,” McDowell said. “We’re trying to understand how to provide programs that help both USC and the community and unify them together by changing lives, giving more jobs and making it a better place to live.”