Local Matters brings a high level of community engagement and collaboration to all of our program work. In addition, we’re also involved in a variety of broader community engagement initiatives and partner projects. Our engagement work takes three forms: grassroots engagement efforts, policy work and political action, and formal partnerships with non-profit organizations, civic associations, businesses and community groups.
Our network of individual relationships and grassroots engagement aims to help create stronger communities where individuals are empowered—and have the resources—to become leaders in shaping their neighborhood and surroundings. Much of our work serves to link individuals to existing resources, and to highlight the connection between the health of our food system, and the physical, economic, and environmental health of our community.
Policy Work and Political Action
Noreen Warnock, Director of Public Policy and Community Relations, supervises this work and advocates for food-system change at the local, regional and national level. Noreen serves as the Local Matters representative on:
- the Franklin County Local Food Council,
- the Governor’s Ohio Food Policy Council “Healthy Access” Subcommittee,
- Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s Agriculture and Food Systems Working Group,
- Columbus Public Health Department’s (CPHD) Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition,
- CPHD’s Columbus-Area Healthy Food Access Committee,
- the United Way of Central Ohio Public Policy Committee
- OXFAM America's International Women's Day 2012 conference and lobby day in Washington, D.C.
The primary aim of this work is to monitor policy from the local, regional, state and federal level, to bring the information to community members, and ultimately to shape the conversation around what needs to be done to transform our food system.
Some of our engagement and partnership work is facilitated by grant awards and formal partnerships with both individuals and organizations. Each of these projects furthers our organization’s mission to comprehensively transform the food system:
HUD Community Challenge grant
Partners: Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), OSU Extension, Wagenbrenner Development Corporation, OSU Knowlton School of Architecture, and the OSU Center for Urban Environmental and Economic Development.
Focusing on the Weinland Park neighborhood, Local Matters’ role in this project has been to engage the community’s voice in the vision and development of the
neighborhood food plan and to identify opportunities for fresh food production.
Fresh Food Here in Franklinton
Partners: Columbus Health Department, United Way of Central Ohio, Franklinton Gardens, Franklin County Department of Community Development, and OSU Extension.
This project seeks to make fresh fruits and vegetables more widely available in a neighborhood with limited access to these products by bringing more fresh foods to corner stores and markets.
Near East Side Cooperative Market
Partners: Near East Side residents
Funded by the Community Health Funder’s Collaborative, this project seeks to develop a community-owned market on the Near East Side as a way to increase access to fresh, healthy foods in the area.
Local Food Hub
Partners: The Greener Grocer
The Local Food Hub is a storage, packing, and distribution facility created in partnership with Local Matters in the summer of 2011 to expand the capacity of the Veggie Van project, among other goals in support of a stronger local food system in Central Ohio. The Local Food Hub is currently located at ECDI.
Central Ohio Food Forum
Partners: Wayward Seed Farm, Edible Columbus
The Central Ohio Food Forum is a series of open and honest conversations about our food system. With topics ranging from production to distribution, community gardens to backyard chickens, and everything in between, we invite you to join us on the third Monday of each month.
Greater Columbus Growing Coalition
The GCGC is a network of growers (communithy gardeners, backyard gardeners, urban farmers, etc.) from across Central Ohio who meet regularly to learn, share resources, and identify areas for collaboration.