The National League of Cities (NLC) reported on the City of Columbus’ and greater Franklin County’s coordinated efforts to increase residents’ access to healthy food and efforts to minimize food waste.
As the report argues with compelling statistical evidence, Franklin County is a microcosm for the national trends of healthy food access and of food waste. Priscilla Tyson—a current Board Member of the National League of Cities, President Pro Tem of Columbus City Council, a native Columbus resident, and author of the report—explains that one-in-five children in Franklin County are food insecure and food waste comprises roughly 13-percent of the county’s landfill. National statistics state that roughly 12.3 percent of Americans do not have access to healthy foods, yet 30-40% of our nation’s food supply becomes food waste.
Ms. Tyson’s report underscores the prolific detrimental effects of the food crisis by characterizing the crisis as humanitarian, economic, environmental, and educational. For example, with “thirty percent of pre-k students and 28 percent of kindergarten students in Columbus City Schools in 2015” going to school with a Body Mass Index (BMI) that placed them at significant risk for health problems, young children are not set up for success in the classroom because their bodies and brains do not have the necessary nutrition to engage, learn, and grow.
NLC brought together diverse community stakeholders to develop a strategy to “get healthy foods on the tables of [Franklin County] residents, prevent the food from entering the landfills, and stimulate the economy while doing so.” Convened stakeholders include residents, schools, local businesses, community organizations, and local government officials. After two years of collaboration, the group created the Columbus & Franklin County Local Food Action Plan, which contains four goals and 27 recommendations for action that will bring the county closer to achieving these goals. Some recommendations include utilizing vacant land to grow food and create grocery markets to increase access, locally sourcing school programs’ food, and rezoning to increase capacity for local food production.
Advocacy and Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) is assisting Columbus City Council in helping to advance messaging and earned media coverage on the Local Food Action Plan. Stay tuned for other articles!