Michelle Moskowitz Brown is betting the community will step forward to help Local Matters expand its mission of creating healthy communities through food access, education and advocacy.

How much?

Brown, executive director of the south Columbus nonprofit organization, said she has committed $5,000 of her own money toward a capital campaign that is seeking a total of $350,000.

"If you want to say confidence, that's where it is," she said.

Local Matters plans to add 1,500 square feet adjacent to its headquarters at 633 Parsons Ave., just south of East Livingston Avenue and east of German Village.

The money would go toward construction, equipment and technology, operations, staff and materials, Brown said.

She said the group had raised $126,000 as of March 11, with the largest amount, $50,000, coming from the AEP Foundation.

Local Matters hopes to have raised the money by fall, but construction would begin this summer, Brown said.

The expansion would be attached to the kitchen and used as part of the facility's education center, allowing Local Matters to respond to needs and provide some flexibility on programs at the center.

"There will be slightly more capacity in our current kitchen," Brown said. "For example, when we finish a cooking class, we all sit down and eat together. But you might want to spread out and relax (in the new education center)."

Brown said she has reason to believe the center's message of food access will be supported. Of the highlights over the past three years, Local Matters has doubled participation in programs to 22,000 people, is training physicians to deliver food-education tips to their patients and has trained partners to expand programs in Delaware and Toledo.

Fees to attend classes at the kitchen are based on a sliding scale, so the educational aspect doesn't even break even, she said.

The goal is "to keep things accessible," she said.

Local Matters, which will celebrate its 11th anniversary in April, moved into its 2,450-square-foot facility in 2016.

"Local Matters knows that when you come into a community -- whether you work there, live there or volunteer there -- that becomes your community," said Monique McCoy, community food-access coordinator for the organization.

"By building an education center right here next to our office, we're saying this is our community."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary