YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There is a big push these days to buy locally-grown food, and on Thursday, people gathered in front of the rock on Youngstown State University’s campus to make that push at the university.
A YSU official said the university is already a big supporter of buying local, with 15 to 17 percent of the food on campus purchased in the region.
But the group demonstrating Thursday wants to push that even further.
The rally was organized by the faith-based activist group, ACTION. They say YSU President Jim Tressel promised to expand the purchase of local food on campus and said more needs to be done to continue this work.
ACTION representatives noted that the majority of food currently served at institutions, like YSU, is highly processed and fresh food within the same food system travels an average of 1,500 miles, with little profit going to local farmers. While there are 12.5 million food consumers within 150 miles of Youngstown, less than 5 percent of the food consumed is grown or produced locally: a situation that has contributed to the decline of local economies.
Local organizers say there is also another reason they’re so set on convincing YSU to buy more local foods.
“By them leading, other places, like Mercy Hospital, Northside Hospital, will follow suit,” said ACTION Executive Director Rose Carter.
YSU Associate Vice President Eddie Howard was on hand to respond to rally organizers. He said he believes YSU can meet the group’s goal.
“As they move toward their 2020 plan, it’s to increase that to 20 percent or more, so I think we’re going to be right in line with what you’re asking for, with little to no effort,” he said to cheers from the crowd.