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Hanley Sustainability Institute

Dayton entry among top 6 percent, moves on in worldwide food system vision contest

By Mark Gokavi

A team led by a University of Dayton professor earned semifinalist honors in a food system vision contest run by a global design company.

The group headed by Kevin Hallinan, a professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering and a sustainability scholar with UD’s Hanley Sustainability Institute, earned one of 79 semifinalist spots in IDEO’s Food System Vision Prize.

IDEO received 1,319 contest submissions from groups in 112 countries, so earning semifinalist status “is pretty amazing, actually,” Hallinan said. The goal of the prize is to envision regenerative and nourishing food futures by 2050.

“You and your team wowed the evaluation board with your submission to the Food System Vision Prize,” reads a message from contest organizers. “And The Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, is grateful and excited to welcome you to the Refinement phase of the Vision Prize journey.”

The next entry must be submitted by mid-April, after the group gets more community input, involvement and partners with area stakeholders.

Hallinan’s group focuses on food inequity in the Dayton and Montgomery County areas and finding solutions despite food deserts, closed grocery stores, an opioid epidemic, the tornado outbreak and life after a mass shooting.

A 4.5-minute video with the entry explains the challenges about an area where one in five children and one in six people are food insecure and that the solutions lie with 1.5’ers - young leaders willing to work for decades to avoid the 1.5-degree Celsius global warming that would threaten earth’s ecosystem.

The contest entry is a collaboration including Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, Dayton Regional Green, the Hall Hunger Initiative, the Montgomery County Food Coalition, Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County and the University of Dayton.

For the past 18 months, the Montgomery County Food Coalition has been working on a food equity plan. The coalition includes government entities such as Dayton Regional Green and Health and Human Services, nonprofits like the Hall Hunger Initiative, farm support services like the Ohio State University and Central State University Extension Offices, urban farming leaders like the Dayton Urban Grown Cooperative and Keener Farms, the Dayton Food Bank, Homeful, UD’s Institute for Applied Creativity, the Hanley Sustainability Institute, the School of Engineering, other area schools and community leaders in food insecure areas.

In the short term, the 1.5'ers plan to work with farmers to adopt time-tested soil protecting practices to help sustain the soil, including crop rotation, use of cover crops, application of conservation tillage, animal integration with crops, and region-wide planting of windbreaks.

Also, in the short term, the 1.5'ers plan to grow the market for locally grown regenerative agriculture through outreach at schools, churches, libraries, groceries, and more; garner support from healthcare organizations to subsidize purchase of such foods by food insecure people; establish a healthy food cooking mentoring program throughout the region; and inspire action and provide education needed to rapidly increase the number of urban and rural residential gardens.

For more sustainability news and information, visit HSI’s news blog, the Hanley Sustainability Institute website and the Sustainability Program website.

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