Researchers Map City Residents’ Access to Food

From the August 2014 edition

Early this year, bulletin boards and windows around High Street were peppered with posters soliciting responses to a survey all about food—what people eat, where they get food, why they make those choices and more. The survey, which was offered online and at in-person events through April, is one component of a larger research project called “Mapping the Food Environment.”

Coordinated by Ohio State faculty members, students and community partners—including the Columbus Public Health Department, Franklinton Gardens, Learn4Life Columbus, Local Matters and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank—and funded by the university’s Food Innovation Center, the project aims to combine existing secondary data with the nearly 700 survey responses to examine food security (whether people have consistent access to sufficient and safe food), production and affordability in neighborhoods in the High Street corridor with varying income levels. That data is expected to be available late this month, and the team plans to share its findings with the Ohio Department of Health and other agencies and policymakers, as well as the public.

“A lot of times, research gets done in communities, and it goes to journals people don’t have access to,” says primary investigator Michelle Kaiser, an assistant professor in Ohio State’s College of Social Work. “But we want this to be easy to access and the start of conversations. We want to get feedback from the community and continue to provide information to policymakers to address particular problems in particular areas and testing those to make real change.”