Ron Block | Movers & Shakers 2020–Innovators

Since he was young, reading and food have been Ron Block’s passions. "Nothing brings people together like food," Block says.

Sidsel Bech-Petersen


Culinary Literacy Specialist and Middleburg Heights, Branch Manager, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH 


MLIS, Florida State University, 2014


 @rsblock; @rsblockmtm (Instagram); Facebook: ABookAndACook

Photo by Bob Schatz

Food for Thought

Since he was young, reading and food have been Ron Block’s passions. "Nothing brings people together like food," Block says.

As a librarian, Block has combined his loves into culinary literacy programs that benefit the communities served by the Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL). He started with A Cook and a Book, a series blending book discussion, author talks, and cooking demonstrations, often using recipes Block creates tailored to the book setting or plot.

The popularity of A Cook and a Book led to a $50,000 donation to purchase three portable kitchens that function as culinary literacy classrooms. In 2019, Block became CCPL’s temporary culinary literacy manager, developing curricula on healthy cooking for all ages and teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills to youth, while still coordinating visits from chefs and cookbook authors. Since then, CCPL has offered 119 culinary literacy programs to 2,274 patrons. Many attendees live in poverty and food deserts; the library has helped them learn how to create easy-to-prepare, healthier food choices.

"Libraries as centers of community are the perfect place to create, invent, share, and learn through all things culinary!" Block says. This year, he is expanding the culinary literacy curriculum to offerings tailored to people learning English, autistic
youth, and those with gluten-free or other dietary restrictions.

Block also represents librarianship to the culinary community. As well as serving on the board of the Cleveland Independents Restaurant Group, in 2019 he was named a James Beard Foundation cookbook judge, making him the group’s "alleged first librarian," says Block. 

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