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Columbus City Council, HandsOn Central Ohio Increase Access to Food Pantry Services

For Immediate Release 
December 8, 2014  

For More Information:
John Ivanic, City Council, 645-6798

Columbus City Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson, chair of the Health and Human Services committee, is sponsoring legislation to create a mobile phone-based scheduling system that will improve access to healthy food in three Columbus neighborhoods. Ordinance 2837-2014, to be considered by Council tonight, would allow the City of Columbus to enter into an agreement with HandsOn Central Ohio to operate a program that will connect clients with food pantries in three of the city’s most food-insecure neighborhoods: Linden, Franklinton, and the South Side.  

“We have found that while there are considerable food resources in our community, many residents who face food insecurity are not utilizing our pantries,” said Councilmember Tyson, who also heads the Finance Committee. “The new mobile phone-based scheduling system will connect people with food, making the food system more efficient and maximizing public and private investments in our food pantries.”

It is estimated that more than 50,000 meals in Linden, Franklinton, and the South Side go unconsumed each year.  The mobile phone-based scheduling system is expected to increase access to emergency food services by 25%, with no additional food supply costs.  

“This innovative service represents how Columbus is responding to the needs of its residents, and how our neighborhoods — and city — are getting stronger by building on the unique assets that already exist,” said Ernest Perry, president & CEO of HandsOn Central Ohio.  “Our mobile phone-based scheduling system continues our long-standing work of drawing upon our community insights data and technology to strengthen the relationships between people, neighborhoods, and opportunity.” 

“We are thrilled that more of the neighbors we serve will be able to schedule visits to our food pantries via text and web chat,” said Brad Draper, Lutheran Social Services ’ corporate director of food pantry services.  “This reduces a barrier to accessing emergency food and should make the system more efficient throughout Franklin County.” 

Councilmember Tyson recently sponsored legislation to create a new partnership with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, Columbus Public Health, and Local Matters, a non-profit that is transforming the Central Ohio food system through food education. The four primary objectives of the Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan include: 1) Improving access to nutritious, affordable food, and education about healthy food; 2) Increasing the role of locally grown food in economic development; 3) Preventing food-related waste; and 4) Facilitating coordination and communication among existing food resources and agencies.    

The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan will include data collection and the analysis of food supply and demand in Columbus and Franklin County. The plan will incorporate the input of local food experts and stakeholder groups to develop recommendations that will make it easier for Columbus residents to access nutritious foods.