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History & Structure
In 2007, over 75 people from 26 organizations attended meetings and helped develop the concept, work plan, and agenda of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition. Those individuals represented a wide variety of interests and stakeholders, including hunger advocacy, environmental protection, public health, urban and rural farmers, economic development, community organizing, sustainability, academia, local governments, and more. This cross-section of our local food system brought the knowledge and experience necessary to develop a comprehensive approach to improving that food system.
This process was initially organized by Steps to a Healthier Cleveland (Steps), a program of the Cleveland Department of Public Health (CDPH). After the development process was received by area organizations with great enthusiasm and support, Steps awarded grant dollars to the Cuyahoga County branch of Ohio State University Extension (OSUE) and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) to assist in the Coalition's staffing and resource development. The orginal conveners of the organization were Morgan Taggart of OSUE, Matt Russell of CWRU, Brad Masi of the New Agrarian Center, and Jennifer Scofield of CDPH.
As the Steps program was completed toward the end of 2009, the George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation awarded the Coalition grant funding to expand its capacity through staff, interns, and other resources. Taggart and Russell co-convened the organization until Russell's move to Washington, DC in late 2009 to join the USDA's Farm to School program. In early 2010 David Pearl of CWRU joined Taggart to resume the co-conveners structure through September 2010. The foundation funding provided for two part-time paid internships in 2010, which went to Simone Jelks of CWRU and Todd Alexander of OSUE. The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland also provided operating and special project support to the Coalition from 2010-2013 for Erika Meschkat at OSUE. OSUE and Case continue to convene the Coalition together.
In the past, the unincorporated organization had a unique configuration: the Coalition staff and working group members worked closely together, with input and oversight from an Advisory Board, convening organizations, and funder(s). The members of the five working groups contributed their time through their capacity in one of several dozen organizations, including government agencies, nonprofits, community development corporations, businesses, neighborhood groups, etc.
The Advisory Board provided leadership and strategic guidance for the Coalition. Comprised of policy- and decision-makers and non-profit leaders, the Advisory Board met quarterly to receive updates from working group leaders, commission food policy related activities, and develop policy recommendations. Advisory Board members presented and promoted policy recommendations to City and County government.