Food Insecurity in a Fertile Land


What is Food Insecurity?

Throughout the United States, including both rural and urban areas, people are affected by lack of access to fresh, healthy foods. These areas of concern, also known as food deserts, are low-income areas with at least 500 people who live more than 10 miles from a supermarket (USDA.gov).

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A Shifting Connection to Food

Located in the foothills of Appalachia, Southeast Ohio is an area with ample land for growing and producing food year-round. However, this land is being used less for farming due to the national shift to commercial agriculture, food processing, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants. Especially in rural areas where the nearest grocery store is over 10 miles away, economic hardships coupled with this reliance on convenience limits some families’ options. Eating habits can become based on what is readily available or easily affordable, contributing to an increased risk of developing health issues such as Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure.

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Cultivating the Soil

There are many families and individuals who rely on food pantries and community organizations to provide them with food. The Southeast Ohio Foodbank serves ten counties and distributes food through dozens of pantries. Economic initiatives like Ohio Proud are trying to show how much the region has to offer by encouraging Ohioans to become more invested in supporting local farmers. Educational programs such as Live Healthy Kids try to reach children with guidance about how to prepare healthier foods. The resurgence of small family farms and community farmer’s markets are reinvigorating some communities with a desire to obtain fresh food from the region.

In Southeast Ohio, what does it mean to be a part of this rapidly changing food culture?

Explore the Stories

  • Need

    Residents of Vinton County and a local food pantry struggle to obtain whole foods.

    Filling the Shelves
    Video by Julia Moss
  • Change

    A young woman draws connections between food, her health and the land of her family.

    Two & Two Together
    Video by Brooke Herbert Hayes
  • Educate

    A school program strives to change children’s perspectives on food choices.

    Restoring Snack Time
    Photo Story by Eli Hiller
  • Farming

    A small-scale goat dairy strives to influence the culinary culture of the region.

    Farming in the Foothills
    Video by Brianna Griesinger
  • Tradition
    Teaching Tradition
    Photo Story by Krystina Beach