In celebration of Local Matters' 10th anniversary, we are taking some time to reflect. Where have we come from? Who has nurtured our growth? Where are we now? What will the future hold? These are questions we have asked ten friends of Local Matters - ten people who have truly shaped the organization to be what it is today. Today's story comes from a conversation with Lauren Howard - a longtime volunteer with Local Matters.
“Try your best to serve; in whatever capacity you can.” Lauren Howard lives by these words, having been an active volunteer with Local Matters since 2011. Throughout her time with the organization, Lauren has filled many different types of volunteer roles – from sorting produce and leading grocery store tours, to helping in classes. Her favorite volunteer role is as nutrition instructor with Cooking Matters. As a nutrition instructor, she sees first-hand how inspiring it is for participants to learn something new, and how impactful Local Matters can be in their lives. Most of all, she enjoys the connections she makes with the community through the program.
In addition to being an all-star volunteer, Lauren works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is a Masters of Public Health (MPH) student at The Ohio State University. She balances this diverse set of responsibilities with poise and focus. Having grown up on Columbus’ East side and being rooted in the city through church and volunteering, Lauren aims to live her life helping support the development of holistic wellness for her community.
That’s why Lauren believes Local Matters’ work is so important. She and other dedicated volunteers are helping to give people the resources and knowledge they need to feed themselves and their children healthy food. In Lauren’s words, “Local Matters has found a way to provide resources in ways that other programs cannot: by teaching classes, providing resources, and managing local learning gardens.”
Lauren recognizes that community-wide progress cannot happen in a silo. She appreciates that Local Matters works with a variety of other organizations throughout the Columbus community: “Local Matters is very collaborative...[the team] is very passionate and not slowing down any time soon." Looking toward the future, she hopes that Local Matters is able to expand even further to reach more people in and around Columbus.
If Lauren could send a message to everyone in our community, it would be this. She truly believes that food can change lives. The expansion of food education and access efforts happening throughout Central Ohio suggest this to be true. As children, families, residents, and doctors learn more about healthy food and making conscious choices about what they eat, we are all beginning to heal.