In 2008, organizations from across Northeast Ohio gathered for a food summit at Hiram College to talk about challenges and successes in local efforts to increase communities’ access to healthy, affordable local food, and the economic impacts of supporting the growing number of food businesses and farmers. The goal was to help communities form food councils or coalitions to tackle these issues in their areas.
The Summit Food Policy Coalition grew out of these efforts when three local organizations – Countryside Conservancy, Crown Point Ecology Center, and Ohio State University Extension – came together as the original members of the Summit Food Policy Coalition.
In 2014, Akron Community Foundation commissioned an assessment of the local food network to identify needs surrounding healthy food availability and to set its own funding priorities. The study’s results suggested the need for a more diverse approach to tackling food insecurity, including leveraging knowledge and resources from overlooked and nontraditional stakeholders.
In 2015, the community foundation funded a series of strategic planning sessions that included individuals and representatives from more than 60 organizations, including local entrepreneurs, waste management representatives and others outside the coalition’s membership. That planning, conducted by Round River Consulting, identified opportunities for collaboration around four strategic goals:
- Creating a culture of healthy eating
- Supporting the development of a network of food entrepreneurs
- Establishing public policies that support healthy local food, sustainable land use, and neighborhood and economic development
- Creating year-round, affordable access to nutritious food for every resident
A fifth, internal goal and objective is aimed at ensuring the organization’s ability to implement the strategic plan and provide both leadership and financial stability to the group, something the community foundation sees as key to its success.
In 2018, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank became the fiscal sponsor of Summit Food Coalition, and the organizations office moved to the Foodbank's Annex.
There are now over a dozen individuals/organizations serving on the advisory committee, with dozens of additional organizations and individuals participating in each of the focus areas.