Local Matters puts healthful meals in reach

Day by Day
Local Matters puts healthful meals in reach

By LIZ THOMPSON
December 31, 2018
This Week News

 “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This old adage is attributed to many different cultures. Unfortunately, food insecurity, including lack of access to fresh food, is real for too many.

During the holidays, many of us have reached for one too many sweets and second helpings of all kinds of food. Dieting becomes a New Year’s resolution.

We should be mindful of our diet, not dieting, throughout our lives. No matter our age, diseases such as Type 2 diabetes might plague us in part due to poor food choices. If we never learned how to prepare foods healthfully or have no available fresh food, it complicates overall health.

Through the years, I learned how to love cooking from scratch using basic foods. I have been fortunate to have a garden for many years.

Not everyone has these opportunities. That is where Local Matters comes in.

In 2005, co-founders Michael Jones and Noreen Warnock were looking for answers to big questions about our food system. They wanted to keep our children healthier and ensure that everyone had access to healthful and affordable food.

Jones is a chef. When he and his wife were expecting their first child, he read an article that said children of his child’s generation would be the first whose life expectancy would be shorter than their parents’.

When he learned that food was the root of the problem, he was called to action.

Warnock grew up in a low-income family that struggled to make ends meet. As a mother of two who understood the role food played in raising a healthy family on a budget, she advocated for organic food on local grocery-store shelves. She wanted everyone to have equal access to healthful foods.

Warnock’s work with community organizations led to the creation of the Greater Columbus Foodshed Project. This project helped create more than 20 community gardens.

These two founders’ visions became Local Matters in 2008.

The 20 staff members and 200 active volunteers work with families to teach them how to shop, plan and prepare healthful foods on a budget.

Local Matters, based in south Columbus (Ohio), has partnered with schools, hospitals, Maryhaven Women’s Center, Mount Carmel College of Nursing and food-access partners to reach those in need.

“Food is pivotal in health. Dietary choices can promote recovery from disease, worsen chronic illness and influence day-to-day energy levels,” said Kelsey Sicker, a member of the Ohio State University College of Medicine’s class of 2019. My involvement with Local Matters has given me comfort in discussing food and cooking, particularly in a relatable way for patients to readily apply to daily life.”

This year, Local Matters will launch Fresh Stand. It is an affordable, mobile, fruit-and-vegetable stand designed to provide food access.

It will partner with corner stores to sell fresh produce that, when paired with the store’s shelf-stable items such as rice, pasta, flour, sugar and oil, will allow customers to create a whole, healthful and affordable meal.

There will be hands-on demonstrations to show how to simplify food-preparation habits, build new skills and give people confidence to create a delicious meal.

Fresh Stand will work with leadership at churches and other places of worship to sell produce through Second Sundays, during which the Fresh Stand will sell produce and meal bags directly to residents on a monthly basis.

Local Matters will sell produce through Fresh Stand at schools, recreation centers and community growing spaces, allowing students and families to purchase meal ingredients after school hours.

We can make a personal difference with our own choices and teaching our children.

Learn more by calling Local Matters at 614-263-5662, emailing info@ local-matters.org or reading about what its volunteers and staff are doing at local-matters.org.

 

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