Cuyahoga County (2016)

2016 County Highlights
Cuyahoga County

5320 Stanard Avenue Cleveland, OH 44103

Phone: 216-429-8200
Nicole Debose
Health and Wellness

Healthy Food Retail Project: Obesity, identified as a priority health issue on the HIP-Cuyahoga (Health Improvement Partnership-Cuyahoga) Quality of Life survey, affects one in four adults in Cuyahoga County. Only 25 percent of adults responding to this survey meet the recommended daily fruit and vegetable consumption. As a member of the HIP-Cuyahoga Healthy Eating Active Living subcommittee, OSU Extension meets our under-resourced residents where they purchase food most often, at corner stores, offering a four-week SNAP-Ed nutrition series. The series offers education, materials, and taste testing of healthy snacks. The goals of OSU Extension’s participation in this initiative are to increase customer knowledge of healthy food availability, improve health behaviors, and to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Post-event survey results indicate that 81 percent of participants made changes to eat healthier. In addition, 68 percent planned to change the foods they buy because of the information received during the sessions, and 50 percent reported plans to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. This knowledge gained and changes in behavior over time will contribute to reduced health care costs and the incidence of obesity and other chronic diseases.

Produce Perks and Produce Prescription SNAP Incentive Programs: In 2009, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition completed a community food assessment, which highlighted the need for improved access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate local food in their neighborhoods and communities. This fueled the development of the Double Value Produce Perks (DVPP) and subsequently, the Produce Prescription (PRx) programs, aimed at increasing access to and affordability of high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables sold at neighborhood-based farmers’ markets for Cuyahoga, Stark, and Summit County residents utilizing the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Approximately 4,000 individuals were able to increase the value of their monthly SNAP benefit and purchasing power, while increasing profits for local farmers by redeeming more than $150,000 in SNAP incentives.

In 2016, DVPP and PRx were supported by Wholesome Wave, St. Luke’s Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation. Each of these funding sources were leveraged to seek funding from the Doll Family Foundation to pilot a six-week nutrition program specifically for new and expectant moms and the creation of a baby food cookbook that includes food safety and menu planning tips for fresh produce. Pre- and post-activity surveys indicate increased knowledge on age appropriate food for children and proper food storage.

In a modern world of a sedentary lifestyle via computer screens and electronic devices, Youth Outdoors participants are moving. The 595 individual youth who participated in Youth Outdoors adventure clubs have elevated their physical activity, gained knowledge in healthy food choices and increased their water consumption.

Although a majority (52 percent) of G.W. Carver Elementary School students expressed a desire not to return to their school if given the choice, 61 percent said the Ag in the City program made them more likely to want to return to Carver regardless of how they otherwise felt about the school. In addition, 85 percent of the students also self-reported that they eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily and are more aware of various types of fruits and vegetables as a result of their participation in the program.

Job Skills and Careers

Michaela, a nine-year participant in the Youth Outdoors program, gained job skill experience through 890 hours of volunteering in the horseback riding program. Through participation in an intergenerational horse committee, Michaela expanded her communication, problem-solving, collaboration, joint decision making, and leadership skills. Her experiences with Youth Outdoors have led her to choose a college career path in equine studies – an exceptional choice for a kid living in a metropolitan inner city.

This year, 62 percent of the G.W. Carver Elementary School students participating in Ag In the City program expressed their desire to attend a high school with a career tech program in the agrisciences as “Very Likely” (48 percent) or “Likely” (14 percent). Nearly 60 percent correctly identified the Cleveland high school (East Tech) that offers an agriscience program.

Thriving Across the Life Span

In 2006, America's Promise reported that only three in 10 youth ages 12 to 17 get the support that they need to flourish. This support includes caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others. With support from the Cuyahoga County Family and Children First Council, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition (YALC) engages adult volunteers and many community-based organizations to create youth-adult partnerships that help more than 500 of our local teens learn how to make healthy choices and provides more than 24 opportunities each year for youth to sharpen their meeting facilitation, public speaking, peer teaching, and advocacy skills. Combining skill development and service learning with caring adults supports the development of characteristics proven to contribute to high school graduation, reduced drug use rates, increased community engagement, positive self-image, and confidence to speak up for issues they believe in.

A major activity of the YALC involves members identifying, researching, and engaging youth and adults to act on community and global issues impacting their lives. YALC members have participated in campaigns for water quality equity, high school graduation testing, and upcycling. They regularly receive requests from local youth development professionals and local government to provide feedback on recruitment, engagement, retention, program, and policy strategies and development. Annually, the YALC invites all youth in the county to participate in their Youth Summit, an all-day forum where more than 300 youth engage in dialogue and mobilize to take on challenges faced by their peers.

Sustainable Food Systems

To offer compelling solutions to global hunger, food security and agriculture in our world, today’s youth must have a thorough understanding of food production and security, agricultural careers, which are enhanced by hands-on learning experiences. The week-long Cuyahoga Youth in Agriculture: Food for Thought, Food for the Future (CYAG) summer camp focused on transcendent awareness, youth-adult partnerships, service, and advocacy demonstrating how agricultural issues directly impact participants’ lives. CYAG camp provides the opportunity for young people to understand agriculture is a sustainable way of life within our urban environment.

Food security is a challenge in many countries due to increased human population and decreased crop productivity and food availability. Edible insects are a natural renewable food source food providing carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Insects can be eaten raw or processed, or used as an ingredient in modern recipes. Cuyahoga County youth were introduced to entomophagy in early 2016; and they have since created an educational workshop, sharing their knowledge on the opportunity for entomophagy to bridge the protein gap of human foods, that has been presented to local audiences and at the National 4-H Maker Summit in Washington, DC. Post-event survey results indicate that all participants gain knowledge of and most, after the taste testing, leave with an interest in learning more about entomophagy.

When growing and selling market products in urban spaces residents are faced with challenges addressed with science-based information shared during our urban agriculture workshops. Our Dig In!, Market Gardener Volunteer, and Urban Ag workshops allowed us to share this information with more than 300 new and experienced growers who took this information back to their neighborhoods helping us promote sustainable growing practices, contributing to self-sustainability, and economic growth. Our most successful Urban Ag Business Planning workshop was hosted by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and co-facilitated by USDA-NRCS, Farm Credit, and Farm Service Agency.

With 37 neighborhood farmers’ markets that have 200+ food producers, Cuyahoga County has the largest farmers’ market network in the state. These direct-to-consumer outlets support the economic development of micro-enterprises and local farmers while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars of those driving to grocery stores. We educate and provide technical assistance to our farmers’ market managers and producers on FNS applications, packaging, food safety, pricing, and display strategies, etc. As our work with the Statewide Farmers’ Market Network progresses, we hope to influence legislation and support state/regional food system development to increase food security.

Nearly 400 students at G.W. Carver Elementary and 30 students at Luis Munoz Marin School’s summer program participated in ChickQuest, hatching and caring for chicks and learning how to raise and care for them. The students also learned basic techniques of vermicomposting and how to make healthy potting soil using worm castings. In addition, Carver students were exposed entomophagy and some of the cultures globally who rely more on insects than red meat for food. Students then sampled food products made from cricket meal.

Engaged Ohioans, Vibrant Communities

This year, 100 percent of G.W. Carver Elementary School teachers participating in the Cleveland Ag in the City program rated teaching of the program as “Excellent;” 100 percent rated the program overall as “Excellent;” and 100 percent rated their likeliness of continuing to include agriculture-based curriculum in their classrooms as either “Very Likely” (60 percent) or “Somewhat Likely” (40 percent) as a result of their exposure to the program. The Ag In the City Cleveland summer component reached more than 200 youth from six Cleveland day care programs and three summer camps. Youth were exposed to Ohio bats, red worms and vermicomposting, and other arts and crafts.

Environmental Quality

Nearly 400 students from G.W. Carver Elementary School learned about wild birds native to or found in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, including how they look, their calls, what they eat, and how to attract them to bird feeders. Students also learned about bats native to northeast Ohio, their contributions to pest control and agriculture, and how to attract and maintain them to contribute to a healthy community.

Cuyahoga County receives $438,953 in federal funding for nutrition education for low-income people, thanks to Extension’s local-state-federal partnership. Visit for more information.