DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Increasing food equity and decreasing food waste is a constant source of concern for many people in the Miami Valley. On Thursday, Montgomery County hosted its 11th annual Food Summit to address the challenges of healthy food access, transportation, delivery and cost across the county.

Approximately 300 people attended the virtual event, which was themed “From Roots to Fruits: Cultivating Food Equity.” It was hosted by the Montgomery County Food Equity Coalition and included an overview of the Coalition’s Food Equity Plan and several panels on topics that included growing food, ways people are buying/selling food and food consumption.

“Food insecurity has been around pre-pandemic, but that just made it so much worse,” said Debbie Serenius, director of health partnerships for Produce Perks.

Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge led the Food Summit. “We have so many pockets of neighborhoods that the bus doesn’t go there or they don’t have a vehicle to go to the grocery store, or they’re disabled in some way,” Commissioner Dodge said.

The program highlighted community initiatives such as Produce Perk’s Nutrition Incentives Program.

“Folks that use EBT can use that and we will match the produce that they buy on their snap card up to $25 every time they shop,” Serenius said.

Produce perks can be used at farmer’s markets, Homefull’s Mobile Grocery, Gem City Market, and Dots Market.

Commissioner Dodge also announced the Food Champion Award Winners. The six winners were:

  • Trailblazer Award: Trudy Elder, Chief Strategic Officer at Homefull
  • Nourishing Spirit Award: Jessica Wells, Blessing Box coordinator at New Lebanon United Methodist Church
  • Educator Award: Brian K. Faggett, Sr., assistant food pantry coordinator at Wayman AME Church
  • Community Partner Award: Bill Evans and Matt DeAngulo of Miami Valley Meals
  • Multiplier Award: Mandie Burns, youth services director of Dayton Metro Library
  • People’s Choice Award: Glenn Pequinot, who passed away in August, was recognized for his volunteer work as a gardener and contributor to the House of Bread