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 Local Matters' Community Health Education Manager, Laura Robertson-Boyd.
People. Food. Community. Health. These are the four words Laura Robertson-Boyd uses to describe Local Matters. As the Community Health Education Manager and a professional chef, Laura has been with Local Matters since 2010. Filling different roles throughout the years, she has been an incredible asset to the team.
Laura’s Local Matters story begins around the time she moved to Columbus with her husband. She had done some networking within Columbus’ food community, but had not found her niche. One day, Laura’s husband saw Local Matters at a neighborhood farmers market and thought the organization could be a great fit, so he took her a Local Matters sticker.
After some digging, Laura liked what she learned about Local Matters so signed up for her first volunteer shift: to help test out the new website. At the volunteer opportunity, Laura got to talking with Michael Jones, one of Local Matters’ co-founders, and one thing led to another: she was soon hired to work part time, helping with food prep for programs. Not long after, she was promoted to Executive Chef and helped expand Local Matters’ kitchen operations and program recipes.
Throughout her eight years at Local Matters, Laura has continued improving and innovating within each of her roles, from the kitchen, to culinary medicine, to Community Kitchen classes. Laura’s organization, thoughtfulness, and delicious recipes are reflected in every aspect of Local Matters’ programming.
Perhaps one of her most notable contributions to Local Matters’ mission and work is through the Culinary Medicine program. Laura is responsible for spearheading this work and growing it to be what it is today: a strong partnership with the medical students, residents, and doctors at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children's Hospital, and Mount Carmel Health. This growth didn’t happen overnight, though. Laura spent years developing relationships with partners, refining the program, and demonstrating dedication and passion for thinking critically about how we can affect change in the health of our community.
In her current role with the Culinary Medicine program, Laura educates medical students and professionals on diet and lifestyle changes patients can make for disease prevention and management. She particularly loves that her students are so eager to learn:
When asked about why she loves working with Local Matters, Laura shared that she values the fact that she learns something new every single day on the job. “I learn from participants and volunteers of all ages. We have conversations about everything from food prep, [to cooking, to baking] to anything else!” Beyond the content, however, for Laura the most rewarding part of the job is the relationships and connections made with people she never would have met if not for Local Matters.
When she made the switch from professional baking to teaching, Laura knew that this is what she was truly meant to do. “I feel that my life is very full from all the people brought to me from Local Matters. I am very lucky to be able to go home and say ‘I had the most amazing experience today and met these people and taught this class.’ We are more than friends - we are a “framily,” which means friends and family. It’s a privilege to have a job that you enjoy and … I love the work we do. This job allows me to directly work with my neighbors and see how I am personally impacting each one.”