With a Focus on Food Sovereignty, Rural Appalachian Ohio is Rebounding
July 30, 2019 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Communities are creating food access, markets, and opportunity in the southeastern Appalachian foothills.

It is this marker of rural poverty—lack of or limited transportation—that led George Wood, the district’s superintendent, to conceive of the food bus model three years ago. In a massive rural district covering more than 190 square miles, food pantries serve as a lifeline to many of the families living in this part of the Appalachian foothills. But they haven’t always been easy to access. “Many people don’t have working cars and there’s no mass transit here,” says Wood.

posted by poffin boffin (10 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Wow! this is absolutely wonderful, thank you!! While I don't live in appalachia, I live in an appalachian state in the south, grew up in poverty, etc, and feel a fondness for the people who are left in the area after being exploited and then left out to dry due to capitalism.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:21 AM on July 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

I really appreciated this article! Unlike so many articles about food insecurity and rural poor that use stigmatizing language to talk about body size, it talked about community, local control, economic empowerment — all powerful determinants of health far beyond the food we eat. It was a really thorough exploration of community led action and to me was written with a lot of respect.

I grew up in rural America surrounded by farms that turned to monoculture and then went bankrupt, our closest "grocery store" was and still is a gas station, and bristle at many attempts to address food sovereignty from a perspective that focuses merely on increasing "real" food intake while ignoring social and economic factors. Thanks for posting this!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:47 AM on July 30, 2019 [12 favorites]

I was all set to comment on how awesome the food bus program is, and then that was only the beginning! The produce auction model sounds amazing, and like something that ought to spread everywhere.

But specifically about the food bus, I love this:

At each distribution site, the team puts up a tent, tables, and chairs and sets up a cornhole game, soccer balls, and hula hoops to help create a party atmosphere. “I want kids to want to come here,” Amlin says in reference to the games, art supplies, books, and staff ready to engage. “I think it will erode some of the stigma of going to get food if you’re coming to a party.”

It's the exact opposite of so many forms of aid, which are often designed to shame the users. Too cool.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2019 [29 favorites]

This reminds me of The Keepers, an NPR podcast about The Pack Horse Librarians Of Eastern Kentucky.

Food for the brain.
posted by linux at 12:26 PM on July 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

This sounds great for all aspects of the foodshed, and maybe someday they could come up with a funding model to bring the food-bus to the elderly and people without children/school-age children eventually. Socialized food access for all!
posted by janell at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thanks for posting this, we all need some good news.
posted by mumimor at 1:05 PM on July 30, 2019

Super cool, thanks for this post!
posted by just_ducky at 3:55 PM on July 30, 2019

At my job here in CT we are in the middle of a program with Wholesome Wave, doing much the same thing. Great post!
posted by sundrop at 4:11 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was a great read. I loved reading about the food bus - I don't think enough about the extent to which lack of transportation affects people living with poverty - and it was fascinating to read about the auctions, and how they complement farmer's markets. (The one guy was on a waiting list for years to sell his berries at the local farmer's markets - I had never thought about how many growers may WANT to sell at farmer's markets but can't get a slot.)

It was also a great opportunity to learn about Civil Eats, and about Rural Action.

Thank you so much for posting this, poffin boffin!
posted by kristi at 11:31 AM on August 1, 2019

The food bus is such an obvious, brilliant idea that one wonders why it isn't much more common.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:27 PM on August 1, 2019

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