MORPC has been a leader in local food-system planning, with a focus on increased production, building the supply chain, and helping school districts and other institutions find local sources for the food they serve. MORPC advised Columbus and Franklin County in developing the joint Local Food Action Plan (download the plan at https://www.columbus.gov/publichealth/programs/Local-Food-Plan/The-City-of-Columbus---Franklin-County-Local-Food-Action-Plan/), and helped Columbus identify policies and practices to accommodate urban agriculture and green businesses. MORPC also has been asked to assist other Ohio cities and regions in developing local food plans and councils, and has shared its work through conferences and webinars around the country.

When MORPC’s Central Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan (view the Executive Summary or Full Report) was released in April 2010, one of its top recommendations was to establish local food councils to help each of the region’s 12 counties implement the other recommendations. The region now boasts councils and initiatives in Franklin, Fairfield, Licking, Union, Pickaway, Union, and Knox counties.

The Central Ohio Regional Food Council, which MORPC established and managed from 2011 to 2017, is now affiliated with the Franklin County Local Food Council and the city-county Local Food Action Plan. Its mission is to provide links and a regional context for the plan, and to encourage sharing and collaboration among local councils in the region.

MORPC conducted a series of workshops in 2012 to help counties create local food councils and do food plans. With support from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, that project also included the Agricultural Economic Development Toolkit that offers guidance and shows the economic benefits of local food.

Food District @ Weinland Park
In 2010, MORPC received a federal Community Challenge grant to develop a plan that would incorporate all facets of local food into the revitalization of Weinland Park, a neighborhood in transition just southeast of The Ohio State University. The plan was completed in 2013 and turned over to the Community Economic Development Corporation of Ohio (CEDCO) for implementation. MORPC continues to engage informally with CEDCO as it seeks financing for an innovative food-processing facility that would provide valuable services to existing food businesses as well as new businesses that could be incubated on-site and in other Columbus neighborhoods.