The mission of this open work group is to improve the health and well being of inner city communities and residents in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Our two main strategies are to (1) support the development of a local food system while (2) working from the inside out.
We emphasize system in local foods because maximal economic and social benefit derive from linking components in the food value chain. Entrepeneurs who shape their businesses to include multiple links in the chain significantly increase their profit. For example, entrepreneurs who grow vegetables on once blighted urban land, and who harvest those vegetables, and then who prepare and sell healthy, tasty meals gain higher profit than those who only engage in one aspect. Profit and community health are linked; each is benefitted from understanding and participating across the inter-linked system of local food. Those who simply grow and sell can make a profit to be sure, but the multiple link approach leverages the value add of each link into a significantly more advantageous bottom line.
We also commit to working from the inside out. This means that the group's core value is being active in the community. It also means that the community's self-defined needs and opportunities set the agenda and guide our efforts. We welcome and benefit from the active involvement of all, but we expect all to serve the community core. Thus the group consists of people in a variety of public roles, including: community leaders and networkers, educators, policymakers, health workers, entrepreneurs, extension experts, and students.