Food security has been a hot topic in the news with food-borne illness outbreaks at national chains and studies on the impact of urban food deserts.
Locally, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council (GCRFPC), an initiative of Green Umbrella, is working to create a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system across the tristate. The council recently announced that it will award multiple grants of up to $10,000 each for innovative projects that promote more “Good Food” in the region.
The Cincy Good Food Fund Award is supported by a grant from the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.
“Addressing the need for a healthy, equitable and sustainable regional food system is right up there with the goal of world peace,” GCRFPC Director Angie Carl says. “The link between food and health, sustainability and the local economy is undeniable. Ideally it would be easy for all to make healthy eating choices. Yet we know many people in our region go hungry, many don’t have access to healthy food and many do not make healthy eating choices.
“Further, there are many practices, regulations and obstacles in our food system that present challenges for local food production and distribution. Some say our food system is broken. Whether or not that’s true, it is definitely true that our region's farms are decreasing and we desperately need to support and encourage more agriculture in both urban and rural areas.”
GCRFPC itself is a relatively new organization, coming together in October 2014 with a grant from Interact for Health to reactivate the Cincinnati Food Policy Council, which had disbanded in 2011. Today, 40 representatives from organizations operating in the 10-county region are addressing issues facing the regional food system through four working groups: Healthy Food Access and Consumption; Distribution and Procurement; Food Production and Land Use; and Community Assessment, Planning and Zoning.
Each work group identified priorities for its focus area, established a work plan and are conducting research on best practices that will provide information for case studies, position papers and policy recommendations.
The Good Food Fund Award seeks to engage the wider community in achieving GCRFPC goals. The award is modeled on similar programs in cities like Cleveland, Indianapolis and Hartford, Conn.
“There is no ‘Department of Food,’ so we are determined to help our region put a higher priority on a healthy food system,” Carl says. “GCRFPC will provide some financial assistance for innovative, impactful and viable food-related projects to help promote our mission.”
The program will award up to $40,000 in grants in 2016. Applications are welcome from nonprofits as well as commercial businesses and are due March 3.
Successful entries will address at least one of the following GCRFPC priorities:
• Healthy food access for Greater Cincinnati residents,
• Production of local foods and value-added food products,
• Community development to support local foods and coalitions,
• Food security for Greater Cincinnati residents,
• Educational programs that promote healthy eating habits and
• Beneficial reuse or minimization of food waste.
“We hope the Cincy Good Food Fund will help raise awareness in our region of some of the good work that is going on to improve our food system,” Carl says.