food bank logoThe October meeting of the Greater Summit County Food Policy Coalition (SFPC), Akron’s new food policy council sprouted this year, led by Chris Norman, Director from Crown Point Ecology Center, brought its members to the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank (FB), a state-of-the-art 85,000 square foot warehouse facility on the western edge of downtown Akron.  

As reported by the Greater Akron Partnership for Sustainability: “Food policy councils (FPCs) are made up of a broad based group of dedicated individuals from both the public and the governmental sectors, each of which bring different talents and knowledge to the table. In the United States there are many cities beginning food policy councils, as the topics of healthy food access, school lunches, urban agriculture and farmland preservation continue to pop up in news across the nation.”

 Mark Mitchell, FB manager of marketing and communications, dished out some disheartening stats about the need for FB in the Akron-Canton area in light of the current economic snapshot for NE Ohio:

  • They distributed over 16 million lbs. of food in 2008
  • 25% increase over 2007
  • Projected 17.5 million lbs. of food for 2009
  • 900 volunteers putting in 18,000 hours
  • 23% of children under 5 are food insecure in Ohio, 3rd highest in nation

FoodBanksml[1] SFPC is forging ahead with active committees including:  Micro Enterprises, Health Food Access, Education/Marketing, Community Gardens and Networking. It’s another bright spot for Akron’s growing sustainability efforts.

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May 13, 2009

Larry Parker and Jerry EganMustard Seed Market and Cafe in Fairlawn stepped up as the new meeting site for the Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S) networking events, now held regularly in Akron, alternating monthly with Cleveland. Apparently, Akron membership has grown too green for E4S to keep their events exclusively on the Big Lake.

The topic of the May meeting was all about the local food economy featuring Akron growing champs including Larry Parker of the Akron Cooperative and the new Akron Grows community garden project; Beth Knorr of the Countryside Conservancy; and Chris Norman, Akron Summit County Food Policy Coalition and director of Crown Pointe Farms.

Father and son, Phillip and Abe Nabors, were on hand to offer tours of their Mustard Seed Market, claimed to be NEO’s largest locally-owned natural and organic foods market. Phillip also spoke about his love for gardening and push to feature locally-grown food at his 28-year-old retail grocery.

NEO rarely sits in any Top 5 positive city rankings, but how about a stellar #2 for locally-grown foods second only to my hometown of Minneapolis? SustainLane, a popular national sustainability movement website came up with these rankings using data from the US Department of Agriculture for farmers’ markets and community gardens.

Many palatable ideas for sustainability in the Akron area are growing out of the local food movement.