By Ariyana Griffin
HYDE PARK — It had been three years since Hank’s Mini Market had held a large community event.
Since COVID-19 began in March 2020 the former liquor store that was converted into a mini market in 2017 had held food and produce giveaways, art activations and community health screenings. But on July 22 the market on Florence Avenue just east of Crenshaw Boulevard hosted its first Hank’s Health Fest in partnership with the Social Justice Learning Institute and UCLA Health.
The festival was designed to help bring healthy food options, art activations and health resources to the Hyde Park community.
Kelli Jackson, a second-generation owner of Hank’s which was started by her father in 1997, transformed the classic liquor store in 2017 to the mini market it is today. She was excited to bring this opportunity to the community and it was something she had envisioned for a few years.
“I thought that this was a nice way to return, especially because of COVID and just celebrating that we’re all still standing, we’re all still here,” Jackson said. “The day was really about advocating and celebrating health and wellness in our community.”
Inspired by her parents who built strong relationships and created a community centric space, she knew she wanted to keep the same atmosphere but transform the space into something that the community currently needed.
“When I took over the business and updated the space my dream was to take what my parents had established and take it to even further,” Jackson said. The brightly colored storefront allows the intersections of art, food and community to thrive while serving as a safe space.
Hank’s Health Fest incorporated many different activities that reflect the multigenerational community’s interests and needs. The resource fair had several activations and booths, such as art activities, health screening for blood pressure and sugar levels, health and mental health resources, trap zumba, a food panel and more to keep community members engaged while opening up conversations about physical health as well as healthy food access and choices.
“This is my first time here in this community and it’s been an amazing experience,” said Keya Clark. “So much love, upliftment, motivation and inspiration. I’m so happy that I came.
“These types of events are definitely important in communities like this because [people] get to learn about what’s going on, ways to battle what’s going on to equip themselves better so that we can all heal,” she added.
The event had activities for all age groups, encouraging families to come out and enjoy music and festivities. Tahjae T. came to the event because she wanted to introduce her family to other food options.
“My family eats a lot of fast food,” she said. “We don’t eat that much healthy stuff, so I wanted to come out and give them an idea of how to eat. I want to give them experience that they never had.”
Hank’s Health Fest came just in time for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the store’s opening. Originally a classic liquor store, it has continued to grow. The organizers uniquely integrated the family business with art and health and were thrilled to bring Jackson’s vision to life.
The theme of this year’s gathering was “stronger together.”
“I think that there’s a way in which people talk about a lot of lack in South Central, and there are things where there can be more research, more resources and there needs to be more investment,” Chinerye Nwonye, a co-producer of the event. “But I think there also has to be a mindset where it’s like these are things that are already here. There are people that are already doing the work. So it’s about building connections with them and giving them a platform to show what sort of work they’re doing.”
Jackson said this was the first event of its kind at the markey, but that it would be the last.
To keep up with other events that Hank’s Mini Market plans for the community, visit Instagram@Hanksminimart.