For a day, a corner market in Sacramento's Oak Park neighborhood became a town square.
A couple from Freeport set up a stand full of their farm-grown vegetables. A dentist and nurses dispensed care and information in equal measure, and neighbors took advice and healthy foods back to their homes and kitchens.
Saturday was Community Health Day at Oak Park Market on 12th Avenue in Oak Park.
That brought Pam Banks of Sacramento to the fair. Sipping on a fruit smoothie freshly made at a nearby booth Saturday afternoon, Banks had just been screened for glucose and hypertension.
The blood pressure diagnosis: "It's a little high," she said.
And she came away with some eye-opening advice on processed foods and sugary drinks. Nurses used a soda bottle weighted at the bottom with sugar to demonstrate how much processed sugar is in a typical soft drink.
"You're consuming all of this negative food. It's not healthy for you," Banks said.
"I'm amazed at the things we take for granted with food. We're making sure that we're making healthier choices to choose more vegetables and fruit," said Mishandia Lourent of Sacramento, with son Lygend.
Organizers are focusing on neighborhoods like Oak Park, with its significant African American population. Blacks are disproportionately affected by heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes.
"They're getting the attention they so sorely need," said Sacramento dentist Glenn A. Middleton, an event volunteer. "They're getting a lot of information and a lot of care."
Healthier diets and habits can help. So can catching potential warning signs early.
"It's too late if they're being seen in the emergency room," said Oak Park Market owner John Louie, who helped sponsor the event. With Saturday's free screenings, "they think, 'Maybe I'll make a follow-up appointment.' They didn't know those alternatives were out there."
The event, sponsored by the market, the American Heart Association and the West Sacramento-based nonprofit Health Education Council, featured demonstrations of healthy cooking, dance and other activities, as well as information booths on high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke and free health screenings by the American Health Association and other groups.