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Latinos make up the majority of residents in Watsonville, California—around 80%. Although many people in the city struggle with obesity (Watsonville’s childhood obesity rate is 49%), local youth have been working to make amazing, healthy changes. Jóvenes SANOS, a youth advocacy and leadership group in Watsonville, has worked hard to encourage healthy dining options, help a corner store stock and market healthy foods and get junk food and sodas out of city METRO facilities.
Despite these successes, the food environment in Watsonville is still being threatened.
On June 2nd, the Watsonville Planning Commission will vote on allowing another fast-food restaurant in downtown: Taco Bell.
But the youth of Jóvenes SANOS and city residents are rallying together to oppose the addition of yet another fast-food restaurant.
Healthy food advocates have created a petition to fight the proposed Taco Bell and to urge community members to attend the June 2nd meetings and speak out against another fast-food chain in downtown. They’ve also created a Facebook Page, “Fed Up With Fast Food in Watsonville!,” where supporters can pledge their support for a healthier city.
According to “Fed Up With Fast Food in Watsonville,” the new Taco Bell location, much like a recently-added McDonald’s, will be walking distance from Watsonville High School, and will target the city’s most vulnerable population: youth and low-income families.
UPDATE 6/3/15: After hearing concerns from the public about the proposed Taco Bell, the Watsonville City Planning Commission unanimously voted against building the new fast-food restaurant. Jóvenes SANOS leaders and members attended the meeting and reiterated their position that another fast-food restaurant in downtown Watsonville would undermine the health of the city’s youth, who already struggle disproportionately with obesity.
Members of the public and Planning Commission also expressed concern that the proposal compromises ongoing efforts to celebrate Watsonville’s Latino culture and make downtown more “walkable”.