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Ohio State students and alumni work toward improved food security through Local Matters

FUSIAN’s superfood roll: brown rice, seaweed, roasted tofu, sweet potato, avocado, and pickled beets topped with micro kale, puffed quinoa and dragon fruit sauce. Credit: It’s coming

Now buying food can help others who might not have the option.

Since it was founded in 2008, more than 350 Ohio State students and alumni have volunteered with Local Matters, a Columbus-based nonprofit striving to help the communities in need of access to adequate nutrition.

Contributing to the charity is now as easy as going to the local FUSIAN or Alchemy Juice Bar + Cafe. Until Feb. 28, these two eateries are offering a special sushi roll and smoothie sold at their respective locations. For each roll or smoothie sold, one dollar is donated to the Food Matters program and will go toward improving the food education program at Moler Elementary School in Columbus.

Through four core programs — Growing Matters, Food Matters, Cooking Matters and Wellness Matters — the charity provides resources that address food security one step at a time. Some of the resources offered by these programs include cooking classes, food education in schools and community food planning, which involves arranging access for those who don’t have good access to a food source.

Amanda Hemann, a 2013 OSU graduate in public administration, currently works for Local Matters, handling developmental communications and brand management. Hermann first got involved with Local Matters after taking a fundraising class at OSU that was taught by a professor working with the organization at the time.  

“Local Matters is my first full-time position and I always wanted to work at a nonprofit because I think your passion can be your work, and I’m not sure that working for business organizations fulfill you in the same way,” she said.

A member of Hemann’s communications team, Laura Ryan, is a current graduate student pursuing a master’s in Public Health. With her undergraduate degree in nutrition, Ryan sought out Local Matters and began as a volunteer when she moved to Columbus from upstate New York.

“It’s motivating to come to work every day and help raise money for the organization, knowing that you’re helping the community,” Ryan said.

Even though both women are on the administrative side, Ryan noted that volunteering is just as important.

“Volunteering is a huge thing and from there you are opening doors for yourself, so I always tell first-year students that getting your foot in the door and being open to exploring different options opens you up to a whole realm of different opportunities,” she said.

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