WARREN — To encourage healthy shopping, eating and exercise, Lit’l Mac Food Store,1763 Parkman Road, now is adorned with an mural created by Warren native Alex Savakis that is displayed on the store’s northwest side.
Savakis’ mural, which measures 8.7 feet tall by 34 feet wide, encourages people to plan their meals with fruits and vegetables and exercise every day.
A graduate of the University of Akron graphic design program, Savakis has illustrated beer cans for Warren’s Modern Methods Brewing Company; exhibited digital paintings and building photos for the Trumbull Art Gallery; and illustrated “Warren OH.”
Savakis was awarded a $6,000 grant for the mural project.
The mural encourages healthy eating and exercise in moderate- and low-income neighborhoods, where there are few stores with fresh fruits and vegetables within a mile of residential households.
“We’re working to rebrand what have traditionally been called corner stores to neighborhood community stores,” Christian Bennett-Mosley, a Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership coordinator, said. “Often, these are stores that people feel connected with those that operate them and have good relationships with. Neighborhood residents often purchase the bulk of their foods from these neighborhood stores.”
Lit’l Mac has been at its current location since 1991. It formerly had two stores in Champion and Niles.
“Food insecurity in neighborhoods is not a Warren problem,” she said. “It is something happening in neighborhoods across the county, the region and the nation.”
The partnership received a grant in 2016 to study food insecurities in Warren. That funding was a result of a $31,551 planning grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The results showed areas of food insecurity on the city’s entire south side and in a few northern neighborhoods.
Creating Healthy Communities, Healthy Community Partnership and TNP provided funding for the mural project.
“Bringing visibility into the community by installation of this mural will help to promote the importance of healthy eating and active living,” Kris Kriebel of Creating Healthy Communities said. “The artistic design paints a positive message for the community to pursue their own health outcomes.”
“This mural will highlight the Healthy Community Store Program within Trumbull County,” Bennett-Mosley said. “This is a great showcase of changing the narrative of what our community stores can offer in our neighborhoods.
“This mural is dedicated to everyone involved in the food justice movement. Growers, vendors and farmers, organizers and practitioners, policy influencers and community leaders, churches, schools, and families and everyone else who works tirelessly to create an equitable healthy food system,” Bennett-Mosley said.
She said a second mural project will take place next year.
TNP has been working to build relationships with area neighborhood stores for several years.
“In the case of Lit’L Mac and other local stores, we helped to connect them with food distributors within 30 miles of their store that provide fresh fruits and vegetables,” Bennett-Mosley said. “Some are participating with TNP’s Double Up program, where the stores will be provided coupons where consumers will be able to purchase more vegetables at lower costs during their next shopping trip.”
Stores, such as Lucky Seven and Garfield Foods, also are participating in the Double Up program.