With the help of a $150,000 grant from The Community Health Funders’ Collaborative, Local Matters is working on the establishment of a community owned food cooperative on the Near East Side of Columbus. This area was selected for this project due to the lack of existing access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.
Local Matters is partnering with Circle 77, an existing neighborhood food buying club of fifty members who work to launch this resident-led project.
“Our community has to take matters into our own hands when it comes to making good food choices, but it’s a major challenge given the number of unhealthy choices that surround us,” said Near East resident and Circle 77 co-founder LeRoyna Edwards. “We’re very proud to partner with Local Matters and to have the support of the Community Health Funders’ Collaborative to create the kind of long-term changes that we all want to see in our neighborhood.”
No specific location has been selected for the co-op as of yet, said Todd Mills, Development and Marketing Director at Local Matters, but members of community will be engaged this summer to help with the planning and identification of the location. The co-op will be an EBT and WIC vendor that specializes in fresh local produce, dairy, grains and healthfully prepared foods. The co-op market will also eventually feature kitchen demonstrations, community space for educational programming and a farm/garden plot.
“Local Matters was selected from a competitive process for Franklin’s County’s first Healthy Community Award,” said Terri Donlin Huesman, Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, “we were looking for the best ideas to improve health and wellness in our community and we are encouraged by the potential to sustainably increase access to healthy foods on Columbus’ Near East Side.”
“We believe in utilizing business solutions to address social issues,” said Local Matters’ Executive Director Michael Jones, “and our partners here on the Near East Side have already created a framework for a successful business model. We’re thrilled to partner with Circle 77 and to support the creation of this new community-owned business.”
The Community Health Funders’ Collaborative is a philanthropic partnership between The Columbus Foundation, The Columbus Medical Association Foundation, The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, and United Way of Central Ohio.