Gen-H Spotlight: Cinci Good Food Fund Series, Part 6 – St. Leo the Great Community Garden and Pantry

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Six organizations and initiatives were selected as recipients of Cincy Good Food Fund dollars in 2016. The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council’s Cincy Good Food Fund is a great example of shared, aligned efforts being leveraged to maximize the availability of – and access to – healthy foods across the region. Part of the Gen-H mission is to highlight and elevate the good work being done in the Greater Cincinnati community that aligns with Gen-H triple aim goals of healthier people, better care, and lower costs – and the 2016 Good Food Fund is a perfect fit.

In this multi-part series, we’ve been profiling a different winning Good Food Fund project each week, and offering updates on their work throughout 2017. For our final installment, we’re highlighting St. Leo the Great Community Garden and Pantry.

Cultivating Produce – and Community Bonds
St. Leo the Great Church saw an opportunity to address widespread issues around food insecurity and community engagement in the North Fairmount neighborhood by establishing a community garden. The garden creates an opportunity for parishioners and residents in the neighborhood to grow their own fresh produce, and share it with local families who visit the St. Leo Food Pantry.

St. Leo the Great Community Garden & Pantry

The St. Leo Food Pantry and St. Leo’s community garden are two separate and distinct ministries of St. Leo the Great Church. A portion of fresh foods grown in the garden are directed to help supplement items available at the Food Pantry.

St. Leo has a history of serving diverse groups of parishioners, including immigrants and refugees, as well as the broader community at large. St. Leo’s Guatemalan and Burundi parishioners are skilled in gardening and have a vested interest in making this project a success. The Community Garden increases the supply of healthy food in the community and fosters a unique opportunity for the exchange of cultures and languages among residents, parishioners, and project partners.

St. Leo the Great Community Garden & Pantry

By the Numbers
The St. Leo Food Pantry serves about 1,000 individuals each month, including 350+ children and 100+ seniors in approximately 325 households. Serving hours are 1:00-3:30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays year-round. The Food Pantry partners with Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio to sublet a former Kroger building, which provides enough space for it to be a “choice pantry.” A “choice pantry” gives guests the great gift of dignity to choose, within guidelines, the items they prefer to eat, which also cuts down on waste.

In addition to being an associate of the FreeStore FoodBank, St. Leo Food Pantry also partners with a number of food vendors to provide fresh produce, meats, and dairy items. Guests may come once a month to obtain about two weeks’ worth of groceries, to ensure they do not have to choose paying for food over housing, or medications, or other equally necessary items.

The garden features 27 raised beds. This year the church’s Guatemalan community has agreed to tend to the beds, growing tomatoes, peppers, corn, cabbages, and some other items. The produce is distributed to our parish members, most of whom are very low-income, after mass on Sundays, and nine beds are reserved to provide fresh produce to the North Fairmount community at large through the St. Leo Food Pantry.

For more information, you can check out the St. Leo website at www.saint-leo.org. Click on the “Acts of Mercy” button to find pages dedicated to the food pantry and to the garden.

Food system efforts such as St. Leo the Great Community Garden and Pantry are critical in Greater Cincinnati, where obesity and poverty are widespread and many residents have little or no access to fresh, healthy food in areas known as food deserts.

St. Leo the Great Community Garden & Pantry

The Cincy Good Food Fund is designed to financially support innovative and promising projects that can make a significant, positive impact on our food system. It helps strengthen the Greater Cincinnati regional food system by supporting healthy food-related initiatives that improve the quality of life in our region.

About the Cincy Good Food Fund
The Cincy Good Food Fund is a program of the GCRFPC, an initiative of Green Umbrella, with support from Interact for Health, The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, and The Meshewa Farm Foundation.

The Cincy Good Food Fund provides up to $10,000 for innovative projects that promote “Good Food” for our region by addressing one or more of the following GCRFPC priorities:

  • Healthy food access for residents in the region
  • Production of local foods and value‐added food products
  • Community development to support local foods and coalitions
  • Food security for residents in the region
  • Educational programs that promote healthy eating habits
  • Beneficial reuse or minimization of food waste

About the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council

The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council’s mission is to promote a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system for all within a ten-county region of Greater Cincinnati. It provides grant support for food-related projects in our region that are innovative, impactful, and viable.

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