- By Michael Cooper Staff Writer
A group of local organizations is creating a grassroots food coalition and co-operative to solve food security issues in Springfield and Clark County.
The third annual Clark County Focus on Local Food Summit was held on Nov. 12. Each year, attendees have wanted to start a longstanding coalition to fight hunger, Community Health Foundation Program Coordinator Joan Elder said.
“We’ve been having more and more interest in people wanting to work together to address food from the production end, retail, access — across the board,” Elder said. “We’re talking access to professional chefs to access to folks who are food insecure and don’t always have nutritious food available to them.”
The group is loosely defined at the moment, Elder said.
“We just know that we want one,” she said.
A free follow-up meeting will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Clark County Ohio State University Extension Office, 3130 E. Main St. Agenda topics include what should the coalition accomplish and how it should be organized, as well as the actions it will take next year. The meeting is free and open to the public.
The coalition will be community-driven, Elder said. A top-down approach doesn’t always work, she said.
“We want to know what customers feel are their biggest concerns and barriers,” Elder said. “We see that this needs to be an effort that is supported by the local community and that our local residents have bought into it and are participating in the coalition to see how we can improve the local landscape.”
The OSU Extension Office wants to help educate the community through the coalition, Program Assistant Eric Roberts said.
“We want to be a catalyst to the community and see where they want to go,” Roberts said.
The coalition is also concerned about several parts of town that are currently food deserts, she said. A larger portion of the south side may also become a food desert when the Kroger Marketplace development is completed.
The co-op is a business run by multiple people that will focus on providing locally grown food to the community year-round, Roberts said. They may look for a space to operate downtown, he said.
“We’re just all really excited to be working on this,” Roberts said. “We just want to make sure this is a success the the Greater Springfield area.”
A meeting focusing on a local food co-op will be held on Jan. 17.
For more information, contact Roberts at 937-521-3860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.