The Central Ohio Regional Food Council: Promoting Local Food and Sustainable Agriculture

The Central Ohio Regional Food Council: Promoting Local Food and Sustainable Agriculture
From foodtank.com, by Clare Algozin

The Central Ohio Regional Food Council is part of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and includes representatives of six local county food councils in the region, as well as farmers, local government, food-oriented businesses, agricultural lenders, and nonprofit groups. It is co-chaired by the Ohio director of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and the special-initiative director of the Ohio Finance Fund, a community development finance institution. The council has created a blueprint for promoting local food, sustaining agricultural economic development, and increasing the availability of fresh, nutritional food.

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Brian Williams, Agriculture Specialist at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?

Brian Williams (BW): The Central Ohio Regional Food Council provides a forum for county food councils in the region, and works with business and government to overcome barriers and close gaps in the local-food supply chain.

FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of? Please explain.

BW: We bring to the table stakeholders who otherwise might not be at the same table. Business, government, lenders, nonprofits, and farmers all join the search for collaborative models to increase the accessibility and profitability of local foods.

FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?

BW: We’re trying to help partners establish a shared-use cold-storage facility that will increase capacity for several independent meat processors. We hope to use this collaboration as a model for addressing other supply-chain challenges.

FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?

BW: We would like consumers to insist that their grocers, favorite restaurants, schools, colleges, and hospitals make a commitment to buying food from local and regional farms and distributors.

FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?

BW: Our regional council is part of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, and our meetings are open to the public. We are in the process of upgrading www.centralohiolocalfood.org, which we call the Local Food Information Hub.

Download the 2014 Good Food Org Guide HERE.

Submit your suggestions for the 2015 guide HERE.

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