June 26, 2011 in Nation/World

Offer of healthy swap for soda largely fruitless

Two respond to church project in LA’s Koreatown
Ruben Vives Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – It was a new, foodie-type twist to the old inner-city gun buyback program.

Hunger Action L.A., an advocacy group that helps to feed the poor and promotes healthful eating, called on residents of the Koreatown neighborhood of LA to surrender their high-calorie soft drinks Saturday and get a bag of fresh fruits and vegetables in return. The “soda exchange,” which was held as part of an annual food fair at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, wasn’t exactly a raging success.

Only two residents from the area took their sodas to the fair.

One of them was Miriam Lopez, 24, who attended the fair with her 7-year-old son, Saul. Lopez exchanged a 2-liter Coke bottle for strawberries, grapes, cherries and bananas. “This is great, we can make some smoothies at home,” she said.

The other soda exchanger was Isabel Perez, 24. She turned in a half-empty 2-liter Coke bottle and walked away with a pineapple.

Although few people participated in the soda exchange, organizers said they were undeterred.

“We’re showing people that there are cheap and healthy alternatives to soda,” said Maribel Diaz of Hunger Action L.A. “You can flavor water by putting cucumber or spearmint in it.”

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