Local leaders, farmers, and anti-hunger advocates got together to discuss food insecurity solutions at the 13th annual Montgomery County Food Summit.
The most recent data suggests about 12% of Montgomery County residents are food insecure — similar to previous years.
Simultaneously, officials said the number of available food options including pantries and grocery stores, has increased by 18%, as has the dollar amount spent on healthy food options across the county — a sign people are making healthier choices.
While access to food and resources has improved, the growth is mostly due to improved data collection, said Tif Huber, who leads the Montgomery County Food Equity Coalition — a countywide initiative established in 2019.
“We’re going to be out in the community engaging with residents to co-design an equitable food system,” Huber said. “And we’re going to try to progress so that we are accountable to the residents of Montgomery County to create a healthier and more accessible food system for everyone.”
Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph said the city is working to address barriers in communities lacking access to healthy and affordable foods. He added within the last five years there’s been visible progress across the county.
“We’re seeing some things moving forward, mostly because of the efforts of people in this room,” Joseph said. “We’re seeing the Gem City market. We’re going to have a new Homefull market coming pretty soon in Gettysburg. We’re seeing advances in Trotwood with the new GFS [Gordon Food Services grocery store] opened.”
Last year, the city announced $500,000 for a community aquaponics garden in the Edgemont Neighborhood. The city also awarded over $2 million in grants toward the planned Homefull affordable housing and farm project in West Dayton
Officials said despite the progress, the county has a long way to go to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable food.
Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.