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Montgomery County Food Summit highlights community solutions promoting food equity

The 2021 Montgomery County Food Summit on Zoom.
Alejandro Figueroa
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Screen Capture
The 2021 Montgomery County Food Summit on Zoom.

The 2021 Montgomery Food Summit was held virtually on Thursday. Local farmers, non-profit organizations and business owners shared updates, solutions and creative projects that are helping to promote food equity in the county.

Although county leaders know there’s still a lot of work to do to improve the local food system, this year's summit was able to highlight projects and community members promoting food security.

This year's theme was From Roots to Fruits, Cultivating Food Equity. The inspiration for the themestems from projects started as part of the county's 2019 Food Equity Plan. But also by individual members of the community such as organizers at the Gem City Market or the Dayton Foodbank Inc.

Jeffrey Cooper, the Montgomery County Public Health Commissioner, said not everyone has equitable access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods. But working on improving food access benefits everyone involved.

“We remain committed to promoting health equity for all and creating a fair and sustainable food system that benefits everyone,” Cooper said. “It benefits our economy, it benefits the environment, benefits all people.”

Jen Burns, the executive director of Access to Excess — a food rescue non-profit— spoke on the topic of food waste. She said the work her organization does is an example of bringing fresh produce to the hands of someone who might not otherwise have access to it.

Letting guests choose their produce actually contributes to less food waste and encourages play and exploration of new foods without having to sacrifice anything, including money, pride and dignity.” Burns said.

County leaders said there are resources available to community members wanting to champion food equity. A recorded version of the food summit can be found at the Montgomery County Food Equity Coalition website.

Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.