Southeast Ohioan Contributes to Senator’s Food Bill

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced legislation that would expand markets for area farming businesses and increase access to locally grown foods.

The legislation is based on a study co-authored by Athens resident Leslie Schaller.

Schaller says she and two other authors, Brad Masi and Michael Shuman, were working on an assessment project in 2010, which demonstrated "local food and farming economies can have a tremendous economic impact on regional food systems."

The study was noticed and later cited by Brown.

Schaller says the adoption of Brown's bill in the upcoming farm bill legislation would have "tremendous economic impact" not only on Southeastern Ohio, but all across the country.

"What's important with the bill is to really look at the title and see the word 'jobs', " says Schaller. According to Schaller, the farm bill process will restart at the beginning of 2012, which offers an opportunity for local food economy owners in Southeastern Ohio to figure out ways to support this bill.

Schaller says the local food movement is important because everybody eats. "It is something we all can influence everyday. … we're voting with our fork," she says.

The success of Athens Farmers Market and more healthy food access for low income residents through Appalachian Ohio support Schaller's point. "We really have the power to make a change," Shaller said.