Southeastern Ohio Food Access Infrastructure



In Response to a Statewide Needs Assessment Funded by the Walmart Foundation,
Project Includes Developing a Food Access Infrastructure in Southeastern Ohio

COLUMBUS and ZANESVILLE, Ohio – January 24, 2017 – Children’s Hunger Alliance recently selected Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center (MVESC) and Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs to lead a community asset mapping exercise to address child food insecurity in six priority Ohio counties – Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton.

The project, funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation to Children’s Hunger Alliance, will support the development of a food access infrastructure within portions of the southeast where food insecurity can affect as many as one in three children.

“Every child in Ohio deserves to have access to healthy meals and we are committed to working with community partners and overcoming barriers to ensure we reach as many children as possible,” explained Debra Parmer, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Compliance and Government Affairs for Children’s Hunger Alliance. “We conducted a comprehensive statewide needs assessment last year and identified several counties that lacked a strong infrastructure to provide essential nutrition to at-risk children. The decision to focus on these six counties was based not only on overall need, but also geographic proximity to each other and the resources we have available to expand our reach.”

Partners will share more about the project at the Coalition of Rural Appalachian Schools (CORAS) meeting at Ohio University-Zanesville on Jan. 25, 2017.

Children’s Hunger Alliance selected MVESC to gather information about where at-risk children live and to identify community organizations where these children can potentially be served healthy meals and snacks. The Voinovich School’s GIS staff will work to map out highways, road systems and neighborhood entities as well as identify ideal routes to help connect kids to community resources. In addition to data collection, MVESC and the Voinovich School will also help develop key relationships to inform community organizations of the opportunity to begin offering healthy meals, nutrition education and physical activity to kids in the community, at no additional cost.

“We are creating opportunities for the children in southeastern Ohio to have access to healthy food. This is incredibly important and valuable work,” said MVESC Superintendent David Branch.

The asset mapping project will further expand Children’s Hunger Alliance’s reach in providing a sustainable solution to address childhood hunger by partnering with local school districts, in-home child care providers, daycare centers, and community organizations such as recreation centers, libraries and churches that offer afterschool or summer programs. The goal is to build an infrastructure that will provide free meals to kids from birth through age 18 through the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program, administered by the Ohio Department of Education and sponsored by Children’s Hunger Alliance. At the culmination of the project, an action plan will be created to identify potential meal site locations and the most efficient routing system to provide healthy meals to children.

The Walmart Foundation provided funding for the statewide needs assessment and asset mapping program as part of a two-year $3 million grant to Children’s Hunger Alliance to help expand access to nutritious meals for the 630,000 food-insecure children living in Ohio.

About Children’s Hunger Alliance
Founded in 1970 in Columbus, Children’s Hunger Alliance is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in Ohio. The organization’s mission is to purposefully ensure children without access receive healthy food, nutrition education and physical activity. The organization works with partners to help provide approximately 5 million nutritious meals and snacks to hungry children throughout Ohio’s 88 counties. Learn more at

About Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center
MVESC is a nationally accredited, regional resource center for schools in Coshocton, Hocking, Morgan, Muskingum and Perry counties. Covering more than 2,300 square miles, MVESC helps more than 31,000 students learn and nearly 2,000 teachers teach in the largest service region of all 52 ESCs in Ohio.

About the Voinovich School
The Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is a catalyst for regional, state and national collective impact in entrepreneurship, energy and the environment, and public and social policy areas. Students engage in a combination of hands-on opportunities and networking to bring their ideas to life. The School’s blend of real world problem solving and key government, nonprofit and industry partnerships combined with student education provides unique learning opportunities. For additional information, visit

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