30 Mile Meal to announce plans on Feb. 28 for increasing healthy local food production

The Northside Farmers Market brings together regional producers and the public during the growing season. Metro Monthly electronic image by Ron Flaviano.

The Northside Farmers Market in Youngstown brings together regional producers and the public during the growing season. Metro Monthly electronic image by Ron Flaviano.

A meeting and press conference will occur at noon on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Raymond John Wean Foundation to discuss the 30 Mile Meal initiative, a new regional economic development campaign centered on local, healthy food production.

The 30 Mile Meal is a local food branding and promotional campaign that aims to provide a shared identity for farmers, specialty and value-added food producers, retail markets, food events and independently-owned eateries and bars featuring locally sourced menus. The campaign seeks to enable these stakeholders to leverage the growth of dozens of local farm stands, farmers markets, farm-to-school programs and local food and urban farming initiatives to build a local food economy united under the 30 Mile Meal brand.

During the meeting, Leslie Schaller of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks and Natalie Woodroofe of the Real Food Real Local Institute will give a luncheon presentation on how the 30 Mile Meal would benefit the region. In addition, group will unveil the 30 Mile Meal website and plans for 2013 will be discussed.

“We are very excited to bring this campaign to our region,” said Christina Perry, 30 Mile Meal Brand coordinator. “We are reaching out to complementary community organizations, groups and businesses as well as government officials and economic development professionals from counties in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania to join and build awareness of the campaign. We hope to get as many partners involved as possible and look forward to the positive impact the campaign will have on our economy. We had a soft launch at the beginning of February and have already attracted 20 partners.”

The 30 Mile Meal seeks increase the awareness and availability of local food, strengthen the bottom line for area food businesses and create a network between local growers and buyers. The effort seeks to spur economic development and create tourist destinations based on local food by positioning regional and ethnic flavors as a centerpiece of tourism. Taken together, these elements are seen as a strong step forward toward a comprehensive food-based economic redevelopment strategy. The 30 Mile Meal is a project adopted from Athens, Ohio, where it has been extremely successful in strengthening the local food economy.

“Reducing the average travel distance of the food on our plates from 1,500 miles to 30 or even 150 miles will create local jobs, improve the nutritional value of our diets, reduce CO2 emissions and preserve water by shifting more of our food production to rain-fed methods, reducing water demand for declining western aquifers, said Pat Rosenthal, executive director of Common Wealth. “It is truly a homerun, with the bases loaded, for the Lake-to-River region.”

The Wean Foundation is located  at 147 W. Market St. in downtown Warren.  For more information, call Christina Perry at 330-718-8659.

© 2013 Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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