ASBURY PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Saturday, June 19 marks Juneteenth, celebrating the freeing of America’s last enslaved people in Texas in 1865.Kyra's Law: Long Island Mother Pushing Bills To Protect Children In Custody Battles Involving Abusive Parents
On the west side of Asbury Park, and on the poor side of the tracks, change comes slowly.
Affordable housing brings signs of life to the area, but good food is hard to find.
“It’s a food desert over here. There’s not many healthy options. Like, if you don’t have a car and you live in the projects over there, you can’t access healthy food,” said Dave Lewis.
That’s why Lewis and two friends joined forces to open MacroBites, a health food market and food delivery service.
Lewis, Fritz Georges and Jarrette Atkins all went to prison for drug crimes before turning their lives around. Now, they’re trying to turn their neighborhood around, too.
In addition to shipping meals all over the country, they donate food to those in need right here.
The three are also among the organizers of a Juneteenth celebration on Saturday. There’s a parade from Neptune to Asbury park, then a festival at Springwood Park.
“It’s a big thing, because we get to get the community together, our people together, and just have a big celebration,” said Georges.READ MORE: Actor Wentworth Miller Reveals Autism Diagnosis, Reigniting Conversation About Adults On The Spectrum
It’s the first large-scale, organized Juneteenth event for Asbury Park and Neptune.
“Fun, education, community, and just coming together and sharing love,” said Asbury Park City Councilperson Yvonne Clayton. “And also what’s very important: sharing knowledge.”
For Lewis, Georges and Atkins, it’s a chance to bring people together – not to demonstrate, to celebrate.
“It’s just the enlightenment. It’s just the sense of community, the sense of culture, the sense of inclusivity,” Atkins said.
“Think about one of the biggest festivals that this city’s probably ever going to see, and we’re going to do it every year. It’s going to be amazing,” Lewis said.
The organizers estimate more than a thousand people will show up to take part in Juneteenth and be part of the community.
The celebration starts at Midtown Commons Park in Neptune at 11 a.m. Saturday. The parade starts at 1:15 p.m. and ends at Springwood Park where the festival will be from 2-6 p.m.
Click here for a full list of Juneteenth events in our area.MORE NEWS: Arrest Warrant Issued After Accused Drunk Driver In Queens Crash That Killed Father Of 3 Jumps Bail
CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.