Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.
We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.
In this final week looking at our five community development “buckets,” we discuss food access. A little over two-thirds of OCDCA members offer food access programs.
According to a 2015-released U.S. Department of Agriculture report, 16.9 percent of Ohio households have struggled with food insecurity, which is well above the national average of 5.6, and sixth worst in the nation. Additionally, this same report indicates that 7.5 percent of Ohioans have struggled with very low food security, which is the third worst in the nation. Likewise, the Ohio State University Food Innovation Center found that 17.3 percent of Ohio’s population is food insecure.
Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:
- Connected over 131,000 Ohioans to CDC food programs, including farmer’s markets, healthy food initiatives, and community gardening;
- Invested more than $2,600,000 in food access programs to ensure low-income communities gain access to fresh and healthy foods;
- Supported nearly 325 community gardens and 60 farmer’s markets.
Ohio CDC Association members accomplish these things using many strategies. One long-standing strategy is in Appalachia.
Southeast Ohio faces many challenges with getting fresh, healthy food to its residents. Despite the relative abundance of farmland, acquiring fresh fruit and vegetables is difficult because of the region’s remoteness from urban centers where most produce is sent. Distribution is not guaranteed to be profitable because of lower populations, so how does one attract a distribution network to the area?
In the early 2000s, an auction market formed in Southeast Ohio to allow the local Mennonite community a convenient outlet to sell their produce production. The auction format has little overhead compared to a more typical market, and the spectacle of the event involves more of the surrounding communities. An OCDCA member now operates this food hub which simultaneously combats food access issues in southeast Ohio and strengthens the community ties.
From produce auctions to corner stores and vacant lots converted to gardens, Ohio CDCs are tackling food insecurity head-on. We are so proud and grateful for all of their tireless work!