Listening Session Summary

In September of 2014, the Franklin County Local Food Council hosted a listening session on the role of kitchen incubators as a tool for economic development in the local food system. “Economic Development in the Food System: The Role of Kitchen Incubators” marked the third listening session in a series hosted by the council in 2014. These listening sessions serve as public forums where diverse groups who are working on similar issues can share their ideas for change. The goals of the kitchen incubator listening session were fivefold:

  1. Exploring ways to strengthen the kitchen incubator supply chain as a means of aggregating, processing, and distributing local food, as well as a means of supporting economic development through local food businesses.
  2. Deepening understanding of the needs of start-up food businesses relative to kitchen incubator facilities.
  3. Developing partnerships and innovative methods to make kitchen incubator facilities more accessible and affordable throughout Franklin County.
  4. Exploring opportunities for local ingredients to reach consumers through the kitchen incubator supply chain.
  5. Informing local government of opportunities to support kitchen incubators as an economic development strategy.

In order to achieve these goals, individuals from four distinct food system sectors were invited to share their challenges and opportunities relative to their participation in the kitchen incubator supply chain. Although the listening session was open to anyone who wanted to attend, food producers (farmers), kitchen incubator operators, active/potential start-up food businesses, and food funders/financiers were especially encouraged to come and share their perspectives. Ultimately, two producers, seven kitchen incubator operators, four food businesses, and four funders/financiers shared their unique experiences with a total of 40 attendees. 

Click here to see a summary of the listening session.

Food Council Celebrates Veggie SNAPS

Yesterday morning, Franklin County Commissioners passed a resolution to help make more local and fresh produce available to Central Ohio’s low-income residents through a program called Veggie SNAPS. The County and City of Columbus committed $10,000 each to Veggie SNAPS, a program that will allow residents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly food stamps) to redeem them for matching dollars at at six local farmers’ markets. The dollars will be used to match up to $10 in SNAP redemptions at participating markets, incentivizing the purchase of local produce. Participating markets include the Pearl Alley Market Downtown, the market at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Near East Side market sponsored by Columbus Public Health, as well as markets in the Bexley and the Clintonville and Franklinton neighborhoods.

The Franklin County Local Food Council would like to recognize all the hard work of community members, farmers’ market managers, and county government leaders involved in making this program a reality. In March, the Council hosted a community Listening Session to inform the FCLFC and the greater community about nutrition benefit enhancement programs such as Veggie SNAPS, and to gauge participants’ interest in these programs. Overwhelmingly, participants at the Listening Session supported the implementation of these types of programs. We are excited to see Franklin County initiate this project not four months later.

With the 2013 passage of a resolution to support a strong and resilient local food system in Franklin County, and the recent passage of the Veggie SNAPS resolution, Franklin County Commissioners have displayed increasing commitment to fostering a food system that closes gaps in access to local foods. The strong collaboration between the farmers’ markets, community members, and government officials which made passage of the Veggie SNAPS resolution possible displays the will of Franklin County residents to support strong and resilient local food systems, as well. Through forging such collaborations, Franklin County is taking great steps to creating and maintaining a stronger, healthier, and more resilient community.

The Columbus Dispatch published an article about the program on Sunday which can be read online here: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/07/13/county-to-help-more-enjoy-fresh-produce.html.

The County Commissioners press release can be read here: http://www.franklincountyohio.gov/ftp/cPub/12/documents/PDF/47312551-E6AE-B03A-32A17037382DA7AE.pdf.

Join us for the second Franklin County Local Food Council listening session, "Visualizing the Food Environment: Mapping Our Way to Food Access"

In 2014, the Franklin County Local Food Council will host a series of community listening sessions organized around its three basic priorities: Local Food Policy, Local Food Access, and Supply Chain & Economic Development. 

Listening sessions serve as an opportunity for diverse groups working on similar issues to share their ideas for change. They are open to the public.  Several community partners will give short presentations followed by discussion.  The aim of the discussion is to help attendees better understand the broader goals of Franklin County Local Food Council.  Members of the public will also be invited to ask questions and make comments to further the discussion.

Please join us for our second listening session hosted by the Access Working Group. The topic of this listening session will be Visualizing the Food Environment: Mapping Our Way to Food Access. 

The goals of these listening sessions are:

  1. Collaboration and idea sharing to strengthen the collective efforts of individual groups working on similar issues.
  2. Informing the council on areas of local food system change that are important to community members, so that we may synthesize that information and share it with key decision-makers.
  3. Providing the general public with an opportunity hear about some of the important activities occurring to improve the local food system around Franklin County, giving the public the opportunity to ask questions or provide commentary.

We are happy to have the following key community partners in attendance.  They will discuss their experience in working to increase the opportunity of healthy foods:

Where: Columbus Public Health, 240 Parsons Ave, Columbus, OH 43215, Auditorium
When: Thursday, June 26th, 5:30-7 pm
Parking: Free visitor parking is available on the upper deck of the parking garage. The main entrance to the facility is on this level and guests enter the building through the automatic sliding doors.

Kindly RSVP by clicking here.  This link will direct you to a google spreadsheet from which we hope to compile a list of local food mapping projects.

State Food Policy Summit

Amy Bodiker and Morgan Taggart discuss fundraising options for food policy councils

Amy Bodiker and Morgan Taggart discuss fundraising options for food policy councils

On Tuesday, May 27, more than 150 people gathered in Columbus for the 2014 State Food Policy Summit, the single annual event for food policy interests to join across the state of Ohio. The event was organized by Dr. Jill Clark, Assistant Professor in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and Caitlin Marquis, project manager of the Fresh Foods Here healthy corner store initiative, both members of the Franklin County Local Food Council (FCLFC). The Summit was hosted by the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, and took place in the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4H Center at the Ohio State University.

The afternoon Summit was preceded by a Local Food Council Morning Session, which was attended by members of Local Food Councils throughout the state of Ohio.

Attendees to the morning session heard about fundraising options for food policy councils from Amy Bodiker, chair of the FCLFC and a nonprofit consultant (Amy Bodiker Consulting), and Morgan Taggart, Chair of the Cleveland Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition and extension educator in community development for OSU Extension. The talk was followed by a group activity designed for participants to learn from each other’s experiences with local food councils and a networking lunch.

Afternoon atendees

Afternoon atendees

The afternoon session was kicked off by a lecture from Joe Shultz, the Chief Economist for the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry about the 2014 Farm Bill and its implications for food policy. Shultz outlined reforms and new opportunities in the new Farm Bill, which serves as the federal government’s overarching blueprint for food, farm, and conservation policy.

The audience also heard from Ashley Davis, Creating Healthy Communities Program Consultant for the Ohio Department of Health, about Ohio’s plan to prevent and reduce chronic disease; John Weidman, the Deputy Executive Director of the Food Trust, about their approach to improve access to healthy food; Tony Logan, the State Director of the USDA Ohio Rural Development Agency, about available USDA resources for regional food hubs; and Lori Yelton, Registered Dietitian and member of the Michigan Food Policy Council, about their experience establishing state food policy council in Michigan.

Finally, Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks gave a brief talk regarding her involvement with the Presidential Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

The morning session provided a valuable opportunity for local food councils to cross-pollinate by sharing an impressive range of food-based initiatives taking place in communities throughout Ohio. The afternoon Summit provided crucial insight into the broad scope of food policy work taking place in and around the state. To view the speakers’ presentations, visit the John Glenn School of Public Affairs Food Policy website.

Full Council Meeting Notes

April 17th Full Council Meeting Notes

The full Franklin County Local Food Council meets once every other month. These meetings provide a time for working groups to report their progress to the full council, administrative details to be worked out, and possible structural and strategic changes to the council to be discussed. Full council meetings, as well as working group meetings, are open to the public. To join the council for the next meeting, see the events calendar.

Listening Session Summary

Policy Working Group March 18 Listening Session Summary

The Policy Working Group of the Franklin County Local Food Council (FCLFC) held a Listening Session on March 18, 2014 at the North Market. A panel consisting of representatives from the United Way of Central Ohio, Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the Ohio Farmers’ Market Management Network participated in a moderated discussion about their efforts to expand local and healthy food access in Central Ohio. Community participants included representatives from anti-hunger organizations, farmers’ markets, higher education institutions, foundations, and community organizations.

The goal of the Listening Session was to inform the FCLFC about SNAP benefit matching programs at farmers’ markets and fruit and vegetable prescription programs and to gauge participants’ interest in these programs in order to determine if this is a topic in which the FCLFC should engage.

To attend the next Listening Session, see the events calendar.

Full Council Meeting Notes

February 20th Full Council Meeting Notes

The full Franklin County Local Food Council meets once every other month. These meetings provide a time for working groups to report their progress to the full council, administrative details to be worked out, and possible structural and strategic changes to the council to be discussed. Full council meetings, as well as working group meetings, are open to the public. To join the council for the next meeting, see the events calendar.

Full Council Meeting Notes

January 31st Full Council Meeting Notes

The full Franklin County Local Food Council meets once every other month. These meetings provide a time for working groups to report their progress to the full council, administrative details to be worked out, and possible structural and strategic changes to the council to be discussed. Full council meetings, as well as working group meetings, are open to the public. To join the council for the next meeting, see the events calendar.

Commissioners Adopt Local Food Policy

New Resolution Ushers in National Food Day, a Celebration of Healthy, Affordable and Sustainable

October 23, 2013 – The Franklin County Local Food Council (FCLFC) announce today that the County Commissioners passed Resolution No. 809-13 in support of the community’s local food system. This resolution will further strengthen and solidify the County’s commitment to supporting the local food system citing important economic and environmental benefits.  

The policy was adopted in recognition of Food Day, a celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food held nationally on Thursday, October 24, 2013.

 “We are thrilled to be working with the County Commissioners to support and strengthen our local food system,” stated FCLFC’s Policy Chair Jill Clark, PhD.  “We celebrate the County’s leadership on this issue and recognize their innovation as part of a unique group of early adopters of this type of food policy.” 

The Franklin County Local Food Council is a diverse coalition of organizations who work in and for food-related businesses in this community.  The mission of the Council is to expand, strengthen and maintain a resilient and local food system.

FCLFC represents growers, academics, health and wellness organizations, anti-hunger initiatives, food sellers, processors and distributors, cooks, investors, city planners, farmers’ market managers, entrepreneurs, and members of government agencies.  It focuses its efforts in three primary areas:  
•    Promoting greater access to local foods across all segments of the population;
•    Encouraging a stronger local food economy by addressing specific infrastructure and supply chain issues such as processing and distribution; and
•    Participating in the policy initiatives of various agencies that relate to local foods development of local foods – from recent chicken/ducks/rabbits zoning to food truck regulations.
A study released by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Council in 2010 shows that Franklin County spends an estimated 4.5 billion dollars on food per year, but that less than 4.5% of that amount is spent on the 1.1 billion dollars of agricultural products produced in the Central Ohio Region.  Redirecting even 10% towards more purchasing of local product would have a $450,000,000 direct economic impact in our region, not to mention the indirect economic benefits.  Local food is a clear economic development opportunity for Franklin County.
FCLFC members work together and independently on a variety of projects that benefit our local food system.  Highlights of leading Council initiatives from the past year include: 
•    Creating innovative food access maps for the city;
•    Working with major institutions in the area to enhance their local food purchasing capacity;
•    Developing resources for restaurateurs interested in accessing more local food; 
•    Engaging with underserved communities across Columbus to achieve their visions for healthy, thriving community food systems.
In June 2013, the Council also released a comprehensive Food Policy Audit, which evaluated the county’s agro-food related policies and programs.  It assessed four broad policy categories including Public Health, Food Access, and Land Use. The Audit found that Franklin County has made significant progress towards ensuring a strong local food system and recommended that the County consider adopting a local food policy resolution to enhance efforts currently underway. The recommendations in this Audit will serve as the basis for continued Council work in the coming months.
 “We are grateful for the Commissioners’ past investment in local food initiatives and look forward to a stronger partnership going forward,” said Amy Bodiker, Council Chair. “This resolution paves the way for deeper involvement with the County and for the possibility of more partnerships across the state to strengthen on our regional food system.”

To read a copy of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ Local Food Policy, Resolution No. 809-13, click here.

Left to right: Matt Brown, Jill Clark, Commissioner Marilyn Brown, Caitlin Marquis, Commissioner Paula Brooks, Amy Bodiker, Commissioner John O'Grady

Left to right: Matt Brown, Jill Clark, Commissioner Marilyn Brown, Caitlin Marquis, Commissioner Paula Brooks, Amy Bodiker, Commissioner John O'Grady