Montgomery County Hosts Food Summit to Present Community-wide  Food Equity Plan and Announce Food Champion Awards

On Nov. 20, Montgomery County hosted the ninth annual Montgomery County Food Summit at Sinclair Community College, with the theme “Bringing Solutions to the Table.”

The Summit brings the community together to address issues such as healthy food options, affordability, the role of local farmers and ecosystems, as well as the impact of poverty and hunger on citizens.

“Access to healthy food is critical to the overall health of our community,” said Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jeffrey A. Cooper. “By working collectively, we can begin to create a food system where everyone, regardless of their race income or ability, can access and afford a basic healthy diet.”

This year, the Food Equity Coalition presented the first ever Food Equity Plan, aimed at reducing hunger, improving access to healthy food, and creating thriving local communities.

“The Food Equity Plan is an action plan that will be our blueprint for a better future,” Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge said. “A future where everyone has access to healthy food and fewer people go hungry; a future with less food instability and overall food waste.”

This year, Commissioner Dodge also introduced the Montgomery County Food Champion Awards. This award program recognizes community members and organizations taking a leadership role to improve the state of food affordability and access in our community. Winners are listed below:

People’s Choice Award: Nicole Adkins, who established “With God’s Grace”

Nourishing Spirit Award: Neah Rainey, owner of Sweet Rain Desserts

Educator Award: Glenna Jennings, University of Dayton professor and creator of “Desert Kitchen Collaborative”

Community Partner Award: The Foodbank, Inc.

Event sponsors include: Dayton Children’s Hospital, Kettering Health Network, RTA of Greater Dayton, Premier Health, University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County, Tate & Lyle, and Hall Hunger Initiative.

The Foodbank, Inc. composted all food waste from the Food Summit, and that waste was used during a demonstration and unveiling of their new compost system that same day. This new composter is the Miami Valley’s first in-vessel compost system, designed to remove more than 80 tons of food waste from the region’s landfill.

More information about Food Champion award winners is below:

The People’s Choice Award was presented to Nicole Adkins who established With God’s Grace. Adkins distributed more than three million pounds of food this year to more than 3,000 families, despite her home being destroyed by the Memorial Day tornadoes.

The Nourishing Spirit Award was presented to Neah Rainey, owner of Sweet Rain Desserts, who used her personal finances to prepare home-cooked meals and purchase personal items for people every day, for months, after the tornadoes. 

The Educator Award was presented to Glenna Jennings who worked with fellow University of Dayton artists to create the “Desert Kitchen Collective,” which encourages dialogue about topics such as food insecurity and food justice as it relates to immigration. The artwork from the project is auctioned off to purchase and donate non-perishable food items to local nonprofits.

The Community Partner Award was given to The Foodbank, Inc. for consistently targeting food insecurity in the region and being the largest distributor of nourishing food for those who cannot afford it. They work to provide food drives, donation drives, pop-up markets, and other services to reach isolated populations in underserved parts of the community.