Today, Local Matters is a recognized leader and community collaborator, increasing critical healthful food education and food access to combat food insecurity and diet-related diseases particularly in low-income communities. To accomplish these goals, we address the needs of children, parents, young adults, teachers and the community through our core programs: Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters™, Food Matters, and Growing Matters. Our newest program, Wellness Matters, was launched in 2014 to bring fun, healthful food education to corporate wellness programming.
Local Matters also looks at food security from a system-level, by partnering with Columbus Public Health and the Franklin County Department of Development to craft the first ever Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan, a community effort to create a stronger, more sustainable food system for our area. Set for completion in Fall 2016, the plan will result in strategies to improve access to healthy, quality, affordable foods, reduce food waste and enhance coordination among existing food resources in our community, with a focus on the economic development opportunities therein.
Following the USDA grant, TGCFP became a project of Simply Living. Then in 2007, it merged with the Central Ohio Chef-Grower Network and changed its name to Local Matters; both for simplification and to refine the project’s focus. Local Matters gained nonprofit status in April 2008.
Co-founders Michael Jones and Noreen Warnock, with other community support, chose the creation and implementation of a healthful food education curriculum for young children as a place to begin Local Matters' journey. This curriculum (now our Food Matters program) drew from their collective expertise in public health, food preparation, community organizing and food system logistics, and set the foundation and vision for our organization.
Local Matters' origin is connected to a 2002 USDA Community Food Security Grant that included partners like Ohio Citizen Action, Innovative Farmers of Ohio, Stratford Ecological Center, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, and Denison University as well as partnerships with the Child Development Council of Franklin County Head Start, Perry Clutts of Pleasantview Farm, Franklin Park Conservatory and The Ohio State University. Through this grant, The Greater Columbus Foodshed Project (TGCFP) created over 20 community gardens, primarily in partnership with the Child Development Council of Franklin County Head Start; and hosted cooking classes focusing on locally-grown food in some of Columbus’ inner-city neighborhoods. It also facilitated a three-year teen gardening and nutrition project and convened a monthly Foodshed Council, which engaged community members and leaders in conversations and work that seeded the establishment of local food system policy and program work throughout Columbus and Franklin County.