Olympia Auset, founder of the low-cost organic grocery SUPERMARKT, is the final female food insecurity activist to be featured in BHP’s Women’s History Month series. 

After graduating from Howard University and moving back home to South Central Los Angeles, Auset often traveled up to two hours by bus to access healthy food from better grocery stores and organic co-ops. Auset had seen too many of her loved ones and members of her community–– often Black or people of color–– pass away from preventable diseases.  “There was a fish shop, a liquor store, and fast-food options,” Auset told Women’s Health of her neighborhood. Auset attributed much of her community’s suffering to the lack of fresh resources. 

SUPERMARKT was Auset’s way of giving her community better food while also educating them on the impact nutritious food can have on their overall health livelihood. In 2016, Auset and a few friends set up a stand in South L.A.’s Leimert Park neighborhood, selling to neighbors who were eager to get fresh produce. “People were very grateful and excited. We didn’t have much to start with, so we bought whatever produce we could. Some of it was like seconds, where there might’ve been bruises on the apples and stuff like that, but people still came out and bought everything we had,” Auset told Harper’s Bazaar.

The market quickly evolved from a pop-up to a weekly fixture, where Auset proved organic affordable food while accepting EBT cards. Customers can also pre-order weekly produce baskets for a reduced fee. In the four years since its launch, SUPERMARKT has provided 70,000 pounds of fresh produce to the community, serving about 100 people per week.

Though the pandemic has forced Auset to pivot the management of SUPERMARKT, her plans for SUPERMARKT continue to grow. Auset has continued to raise funds to fulfill their goal of opening a full service grocery store and expanding to other cities through the #KeepSlausonFresh campaign. Auset is certain that nutritious foods can illuminate the path to change, “[Food] the most fundamental form of resistance: It starts through food, and if you can’t change your diet, your personal habits, for the better, there’s no way you can change the world if you can’t even change how you live your own life. This will help change health outcomes for millions of people in South Central and will ripple to have an effect on millions of people around the country and around the world,” Auset told Kale and Carmel

Jessica Kaplan, Bucknell University Intern, Class of 2021