The Swetland Center wishes to express our sincere gratitude to our Swetland Center Advisory Council member Richard T. Andrews who is the Publisher and Editor of The Real Deal Press. Richard recently facilitated of a group of twelve community leaders and researchers in the drafting and publication of an op-ed that called for movement toward food sovereignty and nutrition equity as new leadership is established in Cleveland. The op-ed, “A new Cleveland mayor, a new opportunity for food justice” published on Cleveland.com and leading the Forum section of the Sunday Plain Dealer, urged toward “a food system rooted in food sovereignty: access, choice, affordability” and pushed on Bibb’s motto “‘Cleveland can’t wait’ because our food problems are urgent.”
This effort to publish an op-ed that grew out of the mayoral forums co-hosted by the Swetland Center in mid-October would not have been so successful without the consult and expertise that Andrews so willingly shared with the group. His knowledge of Cleveland’s media scene through his leadership of the Real Deal Press, the premier fully digital news organization in Northeast Ohio targeting the news and information needs of the more than 400,000 African American residents of our area, allowed this op-ed to be optimally published.
This op-ed, co-authored by Michelle B. Jackson and Gwendolyn Garth, is a poignant reminder of the urgency with which Cleveland must address its pervasive food system challenges:
"Hunger in Cleveland is a smoldering public health crisis driven by lack of nutrition security and food sovereignty. Case Western Reserve University researchers’ analysis of Greater Cleveland Food Bank data revealed that one out of two Clevelanders used food pantries in 2019. In 2020, the year of the pandemic, that number jumped to 70%."
Michelle and Gwendolyn continue:
"Cleveland currently has a safety net of food assistance providers designed to respond by helping families meet basic food needs in a time of crisis. But this is not a long-term solution for endemic food insecurity... To meet that urgency, a 21st-century model to advance food justice and nutrition equity is overdue."
The authors, the food justice advocates they represent, and several affiliated organizations acting in the food justice space -- Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition, Cleveland Fresh, CWRU Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health, Hunger Network, The FARE Project, Kings & Queens of Art, and the Neighbor Up Network – call for a new structure that meets the food needs of Cleveland residents with freedom, agency, and dignity. Read the full op-ed here.
Thank you, Richard, for leading this committed and collaborative team to publication.