Mission

Summit Food Coalition works to improve access to healthy food for all Summit County residents, and spur economic opportunities for farmers and food entrepreneurs.

We are a coalition of organizations and individuals who are passionate about helping everyone in our community find local food sources, and eat more healthfully.

We work to improve Summit Country residents’ overall health and quality of life through local food in four focus areas:

Education: We create a culture of healthy eating through outreach programs that teach people how to grow, use and sell local food.

Policy: We review and recommend policies that will help people incorporate local food into their everyday lives.

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.

Food Economy: We bring together local food entrepreneurs to network, share ideas, and provide mutual support.

History

Coalition members receiving 2013 Summit of Sustainability Founders Award

Coalition members receiving 2013 Summit of Sustainability Founders Award

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.

There are now over a dozen individuals/organizations serving on the steering committee, with dozens of additional organizations and individuals participating in each of the four focus areas.