Food

Dairy Council nutritionist shares the skinny on American eating trends

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A week before the day when Americans celebrate eating, Karen Bakies, of the National Dairy Council, gave a presentation highlighting facts and trends in how we consume food. And, she noted, we will consume a lot this Thanksgiving. She projected a graphic with such holiday favorites from dark turkey, green bean casserole, sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, and, of course, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Tally that up, she said, and you get 2,500 calories. That’s about a recommended daily intake for a day for most adults. Add in a couple glasses of wine and the inevitable seconds, and that can balloon to 4,500 calories. One meal, one day. But consuming extra calories is just a holiday tradition. Americans are battling obesity and the diabetes it too often brings on, she said. Still very few of us, she said, are eating enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains or dairy. That was the first of 10 talking and points and trends Bakies expects that as a nutrition educator she’ll be looking forward to in 2018. Bakies was the featured speaker at the November Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation. There’s nothing simple about eating. “Nutrition is more complicated than astrophysics,” Bakies said. People eat, of course, to gain the energy they need to live, but other emotional dynamics are at work. Food is seen as an experience to be photographed and shared over social media. Food is a way of curing or fending off disease. Food is about values. That’s especially true for millennials and the younger Gen Z, whose members are just now starting their college careers. They wear their food choices like a badge, Bakies said. What people consume defines who they are and what they stand for. Here’s what will shape our talk about eating. Fattening up Topping her list of talking points for 2018 is obesity and diabetes, both of which continue to rise. About a third of adults and child are classified as obese and 11.1 percent have Type 2 diabetes. Given a child’s eating habits are established early, before they are 5, intervention needs to start at a very young age, Bakies said. Children who carry excess weigh when they start kindergarten are four times more likely to be obese by eighth grade than normal-weight children. Snack time We are becoming a nation of snackers – 91 percent eat multiple snacks throughout the day, and 8 percent report never eating a regular meal, just snacking. “This is an area where we’ll have to do a lot more education,” Bakies said. Fat findings The view of fat in food is changing. There’s a split between the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association on whether the consumption of saturated…


Pass the turkey – not food poisoning – on Thanksgiving

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sure, Butterball has a turkey hotline for novice Thanksgiving cooks on Thursday. But it’s doubtful that their emergency operators have to tell many people not to use the hot cycle of the dishwasher to thaw out their frozen turkeys. That was one bit of advice dished out by the Wood County Health District to a local food establishment years ago. When asked last week for some tips on how Thanksgiving hosts can prepare a feast without poisoning their guests, the restaurant inspectors revisited some unforgettable turkey tragedies. In many cases, restaurants want to serve up all the holiday favorites, but just don’t have room to safely thaw out giant turkeys in their refrigerators. So they devise some creative methods. Registered sanitarian Julie Nye told about the turkeys thawing in a mop sink. That’s a no-no. Then there was the turkey in the dishwasher, with the appliance working double time to also wash all the vegetables for the trimmings. “They thought it would thaw faster,” Nye said. “There are creative ways to thaw that become a public health nightmare.” The best advice is to plan ahead, so the bird has time to thaw in the refrigerator. If you find your turkey still slightly frozen on Thanksgiving morning, don’t panic. It is safe to place a turkey under cold running water to help it thaw, registered sanitarian Jillian Bodey said. Following are more safety tips from the health district sanitarians, so your guests don’t get sick from the feast. Top on the list – wash your hands … often. “The number one thing we can remind people to do is handwashing,” Nye said. That rule is especially important in between handling an uncooked turkey and any food item raw and ready to eat. “Handwashing is top for everybody,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the health district. “It’s amazing what that will prevent.” And for good measure, wash the produce even if it’s labeled “pre-washed,” Glore said. You never really know if the pre-washing was as thorough as you would like. To avoid cross contamination, make sure you wipe up turkey juice that somehow seems to get everywhere in the kitchen. Don’t cut raw vegetables on surfaces used for the turkey, unless they are thoroughly cleaned first. “You need to sanitize surfaces and cutting boards,” Nye said. Temperatures are especially tricky. Turkey must reach a temperature of 165 degrees, so use a probe thermometer with numbers, Bodey said. Using an inexact meat thermometer that has readings of “not done,” “done,” and “overdone” is not good enough when it comes to a big bird like a turkey. Make sure you insert the thermometer into a thick part of the turkey to get a true reading. Remember, turkeys cooked with the dressing stuffed inside…


Aldi customers brave rain to celebrate store’s reopening

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News More than 100 customers lined up in on dank, grey, rainy morning to be the first to see the bright new interior of the Aldi store in Bowling Green. The supermarket reopened Wednesday (Oct. 12) morning after having been closed for a remodeling since Aug. 14. All Aldi stores in the United States are getting upgraded said district manager Nathan Terhark. “It’s all part of accompany initiative to improve the look of every store.” The store features a brighter look, with new signs, and wider aisles. The store’s footprint remains the same. “We made it a better customer experience to be able to maneuver through the store,” he said. Store Manager Maria Croninger said she especially liked that the store now has refrigerated produce area, the major addition to the product line. Also, wine will have a new display area. The store, said Terhark, focuses on efficiency. It carries a wide variety of items and brands, but only in a couple types of packaging. He said the chain tried to work with customers to help them while the store was closed. Other area stores in Rossford, Sylvania, and Findlay did see a bounce in customers from the Bowling Green area. Just before the ribbon cutting, Terhark stood in the rain and thanked the customers for their patience and for coming up to celebrate the reopening of the store. The first customers through the doors on opening day got golden tickets good for discounts, Customers coming in throughout the day were entered in a drawing for free produce for a year. Diane Petteys, Bowling Green, said she was glad the store was reopening. She lives close by so she does all her shopping here. While it was closed, she did shop at another local chain, but she found it “too big, too crowded.” Last week she did venture to the Rossford Aldi. “I like the convenience, the smallness,” Petteys said. “You’re not walking through a great big store, and I really like their prices.” Paula Watson, who was sharing an umbrella with Petteys, agreed with her friend’s assessment. She was particularly “excited” at the news that the produce selection would be expanding. While it was closed she tried an ordering system from another chain and found that convenient. But she’s committed to Aldi, except for a few bath product brands that she has to find elsewhere. Otherwise “the products are just as good as the name brand,” she said.        



Sugar Ridge Brewery opens up in historic downtown BG location

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News At Sugar Ridge Brewery the beer isn’t relegated to the tap, it finds its way into every course on the menu. Mike Mullins, the owner and the brewer, said the restaurant’s chef J.R. Hernandez “incorporates it in everything” – the sauces, the brines, even the desserts. Sugar Ridge Brewery opened at 109 S. Main St., earlier this month during the Black Swamp Arts Festival. A ribbon cutting will be held to celebrate the new eatery Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 11 a.m. Contact the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce to RSVP at MarissaMuniz@bgchamber.net or (419) 353-7945. Mullins opened on Dixie Highway in October, 2010. He operated it there until he closed it two years ago in preparation for opening the Bowling Green restaurant in the old Millikin Hotel. The new microbrewery was a long time coming. The walls had been covered in plaster and dry board and the tile covered with carpet. Mullins put a lot of “elbow grease and sweat equity” stripping the place to brick and mother of pearl tile. That renovation was done “one brick at a time” exposing the historic hotel’s original interior. Mullins started as a chef. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he worked in Columbus as a sous chef at the One Nation and then as an executive chef two top restaurants in Charleston, West Virginia. He started brewing back in 1992. “I just always wanted to brew beer and see how it would turn out.” He has seven varieties on tap. Many of the names are a tip of the tap to nearby locales. The Falcon Ale is an American Amber Ale. Rossford Red is a Belgian-style pale ale. Sylvania Stout Mark Daniels is a foreign extra stout.  Not available currently is Perrysburg Pale Ale, a strong English ale. That was the first beer he brewed. He has a dozen varieties registered with the state, though he has more that can be added as soon as he fills out the paperwork and pays the fee. Customers can sample a variety of beers with four- or six-taste flights. Or they can bring a growler if their favorite brew home. Because he operates with a brewer’s permit he can only sell alcoholic beverages brewed in house, though he’s pursuing a license to add wine sales. The food is designed to showcase the beer. Hernandez was trained at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. He also apprenticed at Cohen and Cooke, a restaurant that occupied the space a couple of tenants ago. The Bowling Green High graduate, is a fourth generation cook, Mullins said. The menu includes a chorizo burger using his family’s recipe for the sausage. He can work in 22 different cuisines and brings those together in a fusion of approaches and flavors. The menu…


Rapid Fired Pizza opens shop in BG with giveaway

Submitted by RAPID FIRED PIZZA Rapid Fired Pizza will host a grand opening in Bowling Green, Ohio on Monday, September 25 followed by a 500 free pizza giveaway on Tuesday, September 26th.  The company has achieved 21 restaurant openings in just 2 years time. The Bowling Green restaurant, at 852 S Main St in Bowling Green is over 4,000 square feet and will seat 100 people.                                                      “The work week is fast paced and people need somewhere to go for a quality meal that is quick and affordable at both lunchtime and dinner.” says Ross Wiley, the franchisee and operator for the Bowling Green location.  “We are excited to finally get this location open,” stated Wiley.  The Bowling Green team expects a large turnout at the grand opening and giveaway.                                                                                 Rapid Fired Pizza offers a build your own or craft pizza that is cooked in 180 seconds.  RFP features eight sauces, eight cheeses, over thirty toppings, and fourteen dipping sauces for patrons to build their perfect pizza, there are ten craft pizzas on the menu as well.  Salads, breadsticks, and desserts are also available. Craft beer will also be available in Bowling Green as soon as the liquor licensed is processed through the State of Ohio. The concept was founded in Kettering, Ohio and has grown as fast as their pizzas cook with Bowling Green being the 21st store to open and many more under construction right behind it.  Every Rapid Fired Pizza location has flat screen tvs,  LED lighting and uses recyclable materials.   Rapid Fired Pizza opened their first store in September of 2015. For more information visit www.rapidfiredpizza.com


Farmers, bar owners, beer drinkers gather to toast BG Beer Works’ all-local brew

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News W.C. Fields made its debut in Bowling Green Monday night. No, a cynical comic zombie W.C. Fields didn’t lumber into town. W.C. Fields is the latest brew from Bowling Green Beer Works, and the name stands for Wood County fields, because that’s where the grain and the hops needed to produce the pilsner originated. Farmers, business proprietors, politicians, and those with a taste for craft beer assembled at the brew pub Monday to celebrate the new beer. Justin Marx, the owner of Bowling Green Beer Works, said the beer was a labor of love made from hops and barley grown locally and brewed by Roger Shope into a traditional German pilsner, the “granddaddy” of American beers. The celebration wasn’t just for its crisp taste with just a hint of those local hops, but for the doors the brew opens for local farmers. Some had come in from the hop yard at the Ag Incubator where hops had been harvested that day. Brad Bergefurd, of the Ohio State Extension Service, said that hops provide another crop for small farmers without the large acreage needed to have a viable corn and soybean operation. Hops are labor intensive, he said. Zack Zientek, who works at the Ag Incubator, testified to that.  He checks the hop vines six times a day. But the price they fetch, Bergefurd said, is higher than corn and soybeans. Hops used to grow in Ohio, he said, until Prohibition killed the demand. Now the Extension Service is exploring bringing hops back to service the burgeoning craft brewing business. He said when and another OSU professor first discussed the possibilities six years ago, there were about 30 craft brewers in the state. Now there are about 200. The Ag Incubator site is one of three hop yards in the state the other two got funding through the Us Department of Agriculture. The funding for the Wood County site was eliminated, but the Hirzel family stepped up and provided the in-kind services needed. Craig Martahus, of Haus Malts, said W.C. Fields was “taking us back in time” when beer was brewed from local ingredients. “We’re coming back to a real local product that tastes really good.” He praised the barley grown by Ron Snyder of Pemberville for making that possible. Snyder said he started growing barley because he wanted a crop other than corn and beans. Barley has multiple advantages. It is a winter crop that serves as ground cover and prevents erosion and keeps nutrients in the soil. “He takes care of his soil,” Martahus said. “What’s happening in Lake Erie is significantly impacted by the amount of corn that is grown,” he continued. “Corn requires a tremendous amount of fertilizer and that can run of into the water and cause the algae growth.”…


Pop’s Seafood reels in customers with fresh perch, walleye

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years, Brandon Keiser has been at home on the water, reeling in perch, walleye and more exotic fish. Now, he finds himself in the kitchen, cooking up fish for customers. Keiser has combined his two loves – cooking and fish – into his business called Pop’s Seafood. The restaurant is named after his father, Jim Keiser, who also shares a love for fishing and worked for a period as a charter captain on Lake Erie. “It’s been something we kicked around the last few years,” Brandon Keiser said of the restaurant in Bowling Green’s Greenwood Centre, 1616 E. Wooster St. “Bowling Green needed something other than pizza, wings and fast food,” he said. The restaurant features Lake Erie perch and walleye, as well as shrimp, hush puppies, fries and tater tots.  The fish is fresh – at least until the lake freezes over. The fish is hand-breaded and deep-fried in rice oil, which means it’s far less greasy. “It’s been a hit,” Keiser said. “As for deep-fried, it’s the healthiest you can get.” The servings are large, and Keiser is trying to hook more customers by offering all-you-can-eat fish and shrimp specials. The winner so far for shrimp-eating is one customer who downed 100 shrimp. “He’s got the record so far. He’s up on our Facebook page,” Keiser said. “I want people to go away full and satisfied,” he said. The restaurant’s décor features stuffed fish, lobster traps, nets and photographs of Keiser’s family fishing outings. “We wanted it to be a very friendly, fun atmosphere, feeling like you’re at the dock,” he said. Keiser, who was born and raised in Pemberville and now lives in Whitehouse, grew up fishing on Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, “all over the place.” “I love Lake Erie – always have. Fishing has always been a passion.” His biggest catch was a 6 to 7 foot striped marlin in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Photos line the wall of smiling anglers holding up their prized catches. Customers are welcome to bring in their fishing photos and add them to the restaurant’s “bragging board.” “Anyone can bring their pictures up to put it on the wall,” Keiser said. This is the first time in 44 years that Keiser hasn’t had a boat. So instead, he’s frying up fresh fish for customers. “I absolutely love cooking,” he said, adding that he is self taught. “I’ve always been the one who cooked at the house.” Pop’s Seafood is open every day except Mondays, and has carryout.


Everyday People Cafe cooks up new twists on classic diner dishes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Everyday People Café, the newest eatery in Bowling Green, has deep roots in the city’s culinary culture. The proprietor Pat McDermott has a long history with the Corner Grill, Cohen and Cooke’s, and other restaurants in the area, and he wants to bring the skills honed in those kitchens to his own operation at 309S. Main St. At the Grill, where he worked third shift for 15 or so years, it was cranking out diner favorites quickly and simply. At Cohen and Cooke’s he got to see the adventurous side of the culinary enterprise. What was on hand, he said, is what went into that day’ menu selections. He wants to blend those two approaches. “I want it to be classics, just trumped up a little bit,” he said. He’ll have plenty of help in that with his fellow cooks out back. Steve Bishop was McDermott’s mentor at the Corner Grill from the time McDermott was a dishwasher. Chris Parratt is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has worked locally at Reverend’s and the Oaks on campus as well as in Portland, Oregon. McDermott has been wanting to launch his own place for a while, and the opportunity popped up when Andy Halleck and Ammar Mufleh bought the building that formerly housed the Falcon Market and Café Havana. Finding financing proved difficult, then McDermott was approached by local bar owners Nate Cordes, Michael Wahle, and Troy Myers. They were looking for a home for a liquor license they’d recently acquired, and suggested a four-way partnership. So Everyday People Café was born, a place you can have a mimosa or Bloody Mary with your hash in the morning. True to McDermott’s concept that Bloody Mary will be concocted with the café’s own mix. “We’re going to put as many items on the menu as we can that we make from scratch,” he said. “That extra bit of love, extra bit of labor, makes everything taste better. That’s something I’ve learned from 20 years of slinging hash.” Those items include muffins and cupcakes baked by his wife, Shaina. Because she and members of her families have had issues with tolerating gluten, she’ll offer gluten-free versions of all of them. McDermott said they looked around for the best gluten-free flour from King Arthur, rather than settling for the most accessible and cheapest. The cafe will source as many of its ingredients locally as possible. For produce, McDermott is using Vinchar. He’s also making weekly trips to the downtown farmer’s market to find inspiration and ingredients for specials. For meat, he turns to the Belleville Market, for all the café’s beef and almost all of it pork. Even here, though, the do-it-themselves nature of the business comes through. They bought a quarter side of beef…


Naslada celebrates fine & local food with wine tastings

From NASLADA BISTRO Naslada Bistro, 182 S. Main St. in historic downtown Bowling Green, is highlighting its commitment to high quality and locally sourced foods with weekly wine tastings offered in conjunction with the Downtown Farmers Market. Opening Wednesdays at 5 p.m., the European flavored restaurant offers a tasting of distinctive fine wines from Europe accompanied by a plate of olives, cheese and savory treats and a selection of breads. As part of the bistro’s commitment to providing food that is good on the palate and good for the rest of the body, Chef Boby Mitov has worked with local bread baker David Dupont to come up with an exclusive bread. The recipe created by Dupont uses ancient and whole grains – einkorn, the earliest form of wheat, spelt, rye and buckwheat, to produce a rich, full flavor to complement the restaurant’s fare. Mitov sources as much of the restaurant’s meat and produce from as close as possible. That includes selecting the best he can find at the weekly Farmer’s Market. Mitov, who started his career back in his native Bulgaria, started Naslada in the Woodland Mall in 2003. He moved the eatery downtown in 2006 bringing an authentic continental flair to BG’s dining scene.


Survey shows Wood Countians are overweight, under-exercised

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A recent survey of Wood County adults shows that 70 percent are either overweight or obese. Few are eating the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables. And few are drinking the suggested amounts of water. Ten percent of the adults said in the past year they have had to choose between paying bills and buying food. The survey also shows many would support more locally grown foods, want more accessible walking and biking trails, and would like local agencies to partner with grocery stores to provide low cost healthy foods. The 2017 Nutrition and Physical Activity Health Assessment – which is still in its draft form – is intended to help local organizations develop strategies that focus on wellness, access to care, and unmet community needs. The survey is the work of the Wood County Health District and the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio. The information was gathered from 456 local residents who completed surveys. A separate section, which came from 106 community leaders in the county, was done to see how close the answers compared between average citizens and key leaders. The survey showed that key community leaders are much more aware of healthy food options and exercise opportunities in the county. “One of the biggest gaps we identified was the difference between key leaders and the general public,” said Pat Snyder, communication manager at the Wood County Health District. “It’s not that every place needs more bike trails or parks, but we need to make people aware” of where they already exist, said Alex Aspacher, county outreach coordinator at the health district. When completed, the survey will be shared with other local entities interested in the health of Wood County residents. “We will freely share it with people who want to use it,” Snyder said. An action plan using the survey results is expected to be created by September. The partners, the health care leaders of Wood County, have made commitments in order to ensure the success of this effort: The assessment will not “sit on a shelf.” The identified priorities and recommendations will be followed up and acted on. The assessment will not be done in a vacuum. In order to be successful, any and all stakeholders will need to be involved in current and future efforts. Every agency dealing in some aspect of health care in Wood County needs to be “at the table” and offering their particular areas of expertise and experience. The concept of “health care” is so broad that it cannot be the sole responsibility of any one agency. There can be no “silos” in these efforts or there will be no success. The assessment will continue to be repeated on a regular basis and data and results will be trended so that yearly results…


Golf carts must pass inspections to be on city streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents who like to drive golf carts on city streets may soon be able to do so legally. The first step in the process was accomplished Monday evening when City Council passed an ordinance regulating under-speed vehicles. The next step must be taken by the golf cart drivers, whose vehicles must pass an inspection process. As of Jan. 1, a state law deemed it illegal to operate under-speed or utility vehicles on public streets unless they are registered, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council on Monday evening. The city ordinance will allow the golf carts on city streets with speed limits of 25 mph, except for Main and Wooster streets. The inspection program has been set up with the local police division. The vehicles must have proper brakes, lights, turn signals, tires, windshield wipers, steering, horns and warning devices, mirrors, exhaust systems, windshields and seat belts. Once an inspection is passed, the golf cart or other slow-moving vehicle can be registered and titled just like other vehicles. Stickers indicating registration will have to be placed on the carts. Police Chief Tony Hetrick said after the council meeting that two inspection events will be scheduled for golf carts. After that, the police will do inspections by appointment only. Also on Monday evening, council passed an ordinance authorizing the trade of property with First Presbyterian Church, and the donation of land to the Wood County Committee on Aging to be used for a new senior center. Former city administrator Colleen Smith praised council for its decision to donate the property for the senior center. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said. Smith mentioned the work of the committee on aging, including the serving of more than 850 meals a day and services that are “absolutely marvelous.” In other business, two city firefighters were promoted. Jim Ritterbach, who has been with the department for 22 years, was promoted to lieutenant. Lucas Ward, who has been with the department for 17 years, was sworn in as a captain. A couple awards were also presented to local citizens Monday evening. The Bowling Green Human Relations Commission recognized the Brown Bag Food Project for its efforts to end food insecurity in the community. Marcy St. John, a member of the commission, noted that nearly 15 percent of Wood County residents don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. Amy Holland was honored for starting the project after she noticed that several of her co-workers at Walmart did not always have a meal a break time. So she started making brown bag lunches and passing them around. Soon others joined in the effort. Today, 300 people a month receive food from the organization which now has an office at 115 W. Merry Ave.,…


Brown Bag Food founder, Amy Holland, honored as Hometown Hero

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Thursday was a good day for the Brown Bag Food Project, an endeavor that is usually the group doing good. At a Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours social, Brown Bag received two checks generated by the ACT BG’s recent Amazing Race fundraiser. The check from ACT BG was for just over $4,800, and the Modern Woodman matched $2,500 of those funds. Then Nathan Eberly, a member of the Brown Bag board and a Modern Woodman rep, surprised Brown Bag founder Amy Holland with a Hometown Hero award. “All this is because of what you do,” Eberly said. Her work inspired him to join the effort. The honor came with a $100 check for the charity of her choice, and there was little doubt what that would be. As usual Holland had little to say. She lets her actions speak for her. She got into action starting Brown Bag in early 2016. She learned that some of her fellow workers at Walmart were having trouble feeding themselves and their families some because they were out on medical leave. She took it upon herself to buy a few bags of food and deliver it to them. That has grown into a project that provides parcels of food to more than 300 people a month. Holland said that’s 60-70 families. The parcels have a value of about $60. The idea is to provide emergency food assistance to tide people over for five days, though often the parcels can last as long as a week, until they can seek assistance elsewhere. The food is given with minimal paperwork and questions. People are eligible for a parcel every six months, though that’s stretched in some extreme cases. And at the end of each week, clients can stop by for additional bread and sweet goods donated by the Panera restaurants in Bowling Green and Perrysburg and Jimmy John’s in BG. Peg Holland, the founder’s mother who is on the board, said she’s not surprised by her daughter’s actions. She remembers when Amy was in second grade at Crim. She sought out a girl everyone was ignoring and played with her. Her classmates told her if she played with that girl they wouldn’t play with her. She reported this to her mother who told her: “You play with anyone you want. “She’s always had a big heart, and I’m so proud of her,” Peg Holland said of her daughter. Brown Bag started out operating out of Peg Holland’s home. In November the charity moved into its new home on West Merry Street. That allowed Brown Bag to receive federal surplus food items from the SeaGate Food Bank of Northwest Ohio. Those can be lots of shredded cheese this month or chickens last month. Fresh blueberries were a bonus…


Organizers set gears in motion to stage Project Connect

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shannon Fisher, co-chair of Project Connect, said someday she’d like the program to go out of business. Project Connect is one-day program that provides direct services and connections for the community’s most vulnerable residents. She told 30 or so people attending the kickoff meeting Thursday morning: “We would love not to do Project Connect Wood County because that would tell us everyone in our community has a safe place to live, enough food, and a job to support their family. Until we get there, though, we need to do this.” This is planning. This is putting the gears in motion to stage the multifaceted festival of community care. The kickoff meeting was held at St. Mark’s Lutheran where four and half months from now guests needing a plethora of services will arrive. Project Connect will be held at the church Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. When people arrive, Fisher said, they are not “clients” or “patients,” they are “guests.” Each guest is assigned a host, who helps guide them through the array of services. The aim is to breakdown the usual formality of a client on one side of a desk, covered with paperwork, and the service provider on the other side soliciting information. Project Connect takes a more personal approach to determining what someone needs, and then meets those needs if possible on the day of the event, as well as helping guests make connections that will assist them for the rest of the year. Jamie Brubaker, who chairs the provider committee, said, Project Connect is about being more than a resource fair where someone comes away with a fistful of pamphlets. It’s about getting help that day. That may be a bag of food. May be a new coat. May be a personal hygiene kit. Or it may be a haircut. “You wouldn’t believe the smiles coming out of haircut room,” Fisher said. “People are coming out with a fresh look.” Massages are also popular. Brubaker said guests can also get birth certificates. The Wood County Health District brings out a machine to print them on the spot. The cost for the project is $23 a certificate. Last year 110 were provided. Those certificates are a key to applying for other services. Last year, Project Connect served 773 people, who are either homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless. They represented 282 households, 43 percent of which had children. They were assisted by 58 service providers, and almost 300 volunteers. The kitchen served 485 hot meals. The steering committee, which Fisher and Erin Hachtel chair, has 25 people on it. Thirteen committees handle the various functions needed to stage the event. That includes getting the word out to guests and the press, to taking care of the logistics the…


Sense of community blossoms in Common Good’s garden

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Common Good’s community garden at Peace Lutheran Church grows the usual beans, tomatoes, lettuce and eggplants. It also grows a sense of community. The produce that grows in the 3,500-square-foot plot can nourish a body. It can also nourish a sense of being connected to the earth. A core group of 15 people cultivate the plot so what grows there can be shared with everyone. The community garden was inspired by a cultural immersion trip to Mexico in 2008, said Megan Sunderland, director of the Common Good, a community and spiritual development center. The students came back stuffed with food for thought about globalization, access to land for gardens, and access to nutritious food. They also were committed to doing more than thinking about the issue. They were ready to get their hands dirty planting the seeds of action locally. The idea for the community garden grew from that. Sutherland said they approached Pastor Deb Conklin of Peace Lutheran about using some of the space on the church’s property between Pearl and West Wooster streets. The church was interested in the collaboration, providing the garden space, a tools and a place to store them, and access to the church. All this is in keeping with the creation care that’s a central tenet of the church’s mission. The core of about 15 people who regularly show up for planting, weeding and harvesting have a variety of motivations. Some are interested in sustainable agriculture, others in providing space so anyone can garden, and others providing quality food to the community. On Memorial Day Weekend, the garden is taking shape. The plants that the group got from Toledo Grows, a project of the Toledo Botanical Garden, are in place, and now seeds of being sown in the soil. The first crop of weeds is being removed. One corner will be cultivated with plants to attract local pollinators, bees and butterflies. The garden will be surrounded by sunflowers and marigolds. The garden has both a lot of produce people especially like – tomatoes, lettuce, green beans – as well as eggplants, kale, radishes and peppers. They’ve also planted potatoes. There’s also an abundance of herbs. Anyone is free to stop by and pick, and anyone is free to stop by Saturday mornings from about 9 and until noon, to help maintain the garden. New this year, will be a cart that can display the produce that’s been harvested. The cart is the latest project done for the garden by a 1910 first year course on community engagement taught by Sara Khorshidifard, an architecture professor at Bowling Green State University. In the past the class has built information boards for the community garden site for posting updates on what’s ready to pick and other information. The cart was…