A new project is beginning in the Youngstown area to connect producers with restaurants, consumers and other outlets that would benefit from purchasing locally grown vegetables or meat.

It will be a new branding program, the 30 Mile Meal, which is a project under the Lake to River Food Hub.

The brand will advocate local foods. It will tie together local food advocates and supporting organizations. Local food means local jobs. It will also highlight dishes on a restaurant menus that are grown locally.

The idea is to tie tourism into the idea as well. For example, if someone travels to the area, they can seek restaurants with the 30 Mile Meal branding and try a meal that will contain ingredients grown here in the Mahoning Valley area.

It appears the groups is going to stretch the 30-mile radius in an effort to attract more restaurants to the branding. The radius won’t necessarily be from the Youngstown metropolitan area.

The branding could extend from as far away as the Ohio River to Lake Erie to the Monongahela River or Allegheny Rivers and everything in between.

That would give the tourist, foodie or local restaurant-goer a wider choice in the types of food they can choose from. The idea would be that local producers would supply these restaurants.

It would not necessarily mean everything on the menu is locally produced, but a restaurant could chose one or two dishes in which to keep local.

Even the local pub could offer a sausage sandwich, for example, that would contain pork, the bun from a local baking company and vegetables — all from local growers and producers.

It’s a program in its infancy, but one the Lake to River Food Hub is hoping to have up and running in time for the next growing season.

The 30 Mile Meal Program is already in use in Athens County, Ohio, and is considered very popular there.

The Youngstown group is hoping to make any necessary changes to make it work in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Let’s hope it works here in Youngstown — let’s face it — this could benefit everyone involved!

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses with her husband, Kurt. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism.
Kristy Foster Seachrist
View all posts by Kristy Foster Seachrist

Related posts: