We Focus on Four Areas of the Food System: Access, Education, Food Economy, and Policy
Access- We connect organizations and people to help build a food system that makes local, nutritious food available to every Summit County resident throughout the year. We coordinate several projects that push us towards that goal.
- 2017 NeighborFood Mini Grant Applications have been awarded. Congratulations to all of the community gardens who were selected!
- NeighborFood is an ongoing project of SFC that supports community gardening throughout Summit County. We offer relevant programs and networking opportunities for potential, beginning and experienced gardeners. Educational opportunities are also available through our partner organizations.
- NeighborFood was launched in 2011 following our first Growing Hope Food Summit, where participants expressed interest in learning how to grow food and create community gardens. Representatives from Let’s Grow Akron, Summit County Master Gardeners, Hattie Larlham, and Cuyahoga Falls Community Gardens formed the original core group, along with a number of area residents.
- Early on, the group realized that a major stumbling block for people who want to participate in community gardens is a lack of funds to buy the necessary materials – soil, plants, fencing, and boards for raised beds.
- In 2012, with funding support from the Akron Community Foundation, SFC was able to set aside $5000 for the NeighborFood project. After reviewing applications, we awarded $500 each to ten organizations around Summit County. These were social service agencies, church programs, neighborhood groups, and groups of individuals.
- Since 2012, 60 mini-grants have been distributed.
- In 2014, Summit Food Coalition's Access Committee brought local community organizations together to launch a series of monthly mini-farmers' markets in the Summit Lake Neighborhood. Let's Grow Akron, Countryside Conservancy, Akron Summit Community Action, and South Street Ministries were the lead organizations, with Summit County Public Health and Akron Canton Regional Foodbank providing information and resources to attendees. Since the successful launch of that market in 2014, it has transitioned to a weekly market providing quality fruits and vegetables grown in Summit County to residents in the neighborhood, along with cooking demonstrations, live music, and kids activities.
- The mini-market project continues to grow through the leadership of Countryside Conservancy and Let's Grow Akron to increase the number of neighborhoods establishing mini-markets.
*We recognize emergency food assistance is a critical issue in Summit County. As such, we hope anyone who needs these services will visit our partner Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank's page for information on how to find and access food from local pantries.*
Education- We create a culture of healthy eating through outreach programs that teach people how to grow, use, create, and sell local food.
- Summit Food Coalition hosts quarterly community forums to inspire and educate residents about issues, opportunities, and current happenings on the local food scene in Summit County.
- Past topics have included community gardens, Summit County food deserts, statewide efforts on Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives, mini markets, the work of other coalitions around Ohio, and more.
Food Day Celebration: Summit County Eats
- In 2017, Summit Food Coalition will be hosting Summit County Eats in celebration of Food Day, to celebrate food, teach a few skills, and provide information on every day actions everyone can take to not only improve their personal health, but to support the local food economy, and influence policy decisions. Mark your calendars for October 21 from 10am-4pm and plan to join us!
Growing Hope Education Series
- An enthusiastic team of local Summit County residents established the Growing Hope Educational Series in the summer of 2012 to encourage and support our community to grow, preserve and eat healthy foods. The group offered quarterly programs on sustainable gardening and healthy eating to the residents of Northeast Ohio.
- The Growing Hope team hosted healthy potlucks, harvest celebrations, hands-on workshops, cooking contests, a film series, a salsa contest, and a 16-site garden tour of Akron community and faith-based gardens. Events were held throughout the city of Akron to encourage the broadest-possible participation.
Growing Hope Food Summits
- Summit Food Coalition held two Growing Hope Food Summits, in 2011 and 2013, to address issues facing the community such as equitable access to business start-up opportunities, cooking skills, and urban agriculture. The Summits provided opportunities for Summit County residents to share their hopes and desires for the future of local food. These summits brought together diverse residents to learn, share challenges, and plot paths to tackle the barriers in their neighborhoods.
Community Garden Tour
- In 2013 our Neighborfood and Education teams hosted a community garden tour. Participants received a map of the garden locations to allow them to navigate to the gardens themselves, and METRO provided a free trolley ride to a selection of the gardens on the tour.
Food Economy- We bring together local food entrepreneurs to network, share ideas, provide mutual support, and connect them with resources specific to local foods.
- Our food economy team is tackling the work of compiling information on local food businesses and entities in Summit County in order to assist households, businesses, and restaurants with connecting to local food sources, and providing a forum for food entrepreneurs to learn from and support one another. Do you have a local food business, farmers' market or other local food entity you'd like to have listed? Send us your information to join our community!
- In June 2017 we launched Summit Kitchen Connect, connecting local food business entrepreneurs with kitchen space available for lease in Summit County. Resources to assist both kitchen owners and entrepreneurs navigate this process are also available. Find details here.
Policy- We review and recommend policies that will help people incorporate local food into their everyday lives.
- In 2016 Summit Food Coalition, in partnership with Community Legal Aid, conducted a Food Policy Inventory for Summit County and Akron to determine which existing policies, ordinances, and codes support (or hinder) community members' ability to grow, access, prepare local food, and to launch a local food based business.
- Policy Inventory
- Appendix A- Stakeholder Table
- Appendix F- Inventory Spreadsheet
- Thanks to the hard work of the members involved, and with tremendous public input received at our first Growing Hope Food Summit, the Summit County Food Policy Charter was adopted. Summit County Council passed a resolution supporting the food charter which led to many Summit County cities creating their own resolutions supporting the charter. Those communities are: Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Green, and Tallmadge.
- Read the Food Charter
- Official Summit County Resolution