We’ve been making friends with some wonderful people doing important food-systems work in the tri-state area for awhile now. When we were invited to participate in a panel discussion on Food Innovation at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati this week, we jumped on the opportunity to spend the day learning about the work being done to address food waste and food insecurity in the region.
Ben and I first traveled to the FreeStore Foodbank, a foodbank serving 20 counties in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. In addition to providing 27 million meals to 450 community partners, the FreeStore operates several innovative programs including Cincinnati COOKS! We toured the COOKS facility and learned about the way the free culinary program helps to reduce the need for emergency food assistance by training under- and un-employed individuals for careers in the food sector, while preparing food for over 80,000 food-insecure children across the city. It was amazing to see the impact each pound of donated food has on the people who prepare, share, and consume it.
Next, we joined representatives from Food Forest, Last Mile Food Rescue, Green Umbrella, Brick Gardens, Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub and Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste Program in a panel discussion about the opportunities and challenged in food innovation. It was a great occasion to share the GleanKY model and what makes our growth strategy unique as well as learn from the good work being done by fellow panelists. We look forward to attending the Good Discovery(s) Festival again.
We ended the day back in Kentucky at Master Provisions. Master Provisions is an international ministry focusing on connecting resources with needs, including food and clothing. Like GleanKY, Master Provisions works in partnership with agencies that directly serve people in need. They believe, like we do, that local-level agencies know their clients and communities best. By providing such agencies with essential food and clothing resources, each agency is able to focus on caring for their community as best as they are able. In many ways, Master Provisions is our kindred spirit. And, did we mention they have a 1,200 square foot walk in cooler?!
Back at home, we’re eager to continue to do the hard of building a state-wide agency so we can soon partner with some of the wonderful people we met in the tri-state area.