HESPERIA — After her husband became ill due to “weight issues,” Angelica Brown said she went on a search-and-destroy mission to eradicate unhealthy food from her pantry.
With the tenacity of a private investigator, the mother of three said she scoured the Internet, library and other sources to find recipes and tools that would impact her family’s health in a positive way.
“My husband, James, is 56 and he began dealing with diabetic issues and his cholesterol was very high,” Brown said. “But after I started introducing fresh fruits and vegetables, and eliminating most fried foods, bread and desserts, James is down to one pill after being prescribed a lot of medication.”
Brown, 37, said her backyard garden in Hesperia has been like a fountain of youth and vitality, as it has produced carrots, squash, onions, tomatoes. spinach, broccoli, cucumbers and a variety of peppers.
According to Brown, after almost two years of eating healthy, her husband lost 20 pounds, she dropped 36 and her 5-year-old daughter, Guadalupe, is on her own mission to spread the message of healthy eating at her school.
“Guadalupe comes home and tells me that some of her classmates eat cookies and drink fruit juice for lunch. She knows that it’s loaded with sugar and carbohydrates,” Brown said. “She came home one day from school and said, ‘I’m on your team, mom.’ You know she’s taking all this information in and it’s impacting her life.”
Brown said she’s also taught her family about moderation and allowing occasional “cheat days” where the family can take a walk on the wild side and splurge on a sugary or fried treat.
During her quest for healthy living, Brown said she was introduced to the local “CX3” project, a California Department of Public Health-sponsored program with a mission to build “Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention.”
During a recent CX3 public meeting, Brown shared her story of success with a small group of CX3 supporters, including Councilman Russ Blewett, Victor Valley Transit Authority Director of Mobility Aaron Moore and Phelan Farmers Market Manager Rowena McDermott.
CX3 Executive Director C.J. Page said Brown was one of several people in the program that have been nominated as a “Champion for Change.” Champions are are people committed to helping their families eat more fruits and vegetables, get more physical activity and are making healthy changes in their neighborhoods, according to the CDPH.
CX3 Chairman Raul Medina told the group that they are working with Moore and the VVTA to obtain grant funding to purchase a bus for CX3.
“Our goal with the bus is to pick up families registered with the CX3 program and transport them to a place where they can purchase fresh produce,” Medina said. “Many people who can’t drive depend on convenience food that is not healthy.”
Medina said they are looking at a smaller bus, similar to the Victor Valley Community Services Council’s Freedom Bus, which they obtained from the VVTA.
Last year, the VVTA donated a paratransit bus to the VVCSC’s New Freedom Program in order for the Victorville nonprofit to serve mobility-impaired seniors and those with disabilities.
Moore said if CX3 does obtain a bus, VVTA will provide driver training, routine vehicle maintenance and assist in meeting federal reporting requirements.
Midge Nicosia, executive director of VVCSC, told the Daily Press that funding for her group’s bus came through a collaborative effort between San Bernardino Associated Governments and the VVTA.
Brown said the new bus will be another tool by CX3 to help end obesity and to put “real food” on the table of many people in the High Desert.
According to Brown, she will continue to help educate the community about the benefits of healthy eating and to keep her family on the right path.
“It’s not easy to make a changes in the kitchen, the restaurant and at the dinner table,” Brown said. “It takes hard work and the determination of wanting to see your family live long and healthy lives.”
By RENE RAY DE LA CRUZ