Nourishing Networks: The West Virginia Community Food Security Assessment

Nourishing Networks: West Virginia Community Food Security Assessment (WV CFSA) identifies the various community strategies to improve food access for low-income communities in West Virginia. Over the course of the project we interviewed more than two hundred key informants and surveyed thousands of commercial food retailers, public food assistance programs, anti-hunger charities and emergent alternative food networks. Our objective is to use social science research to foster a more expansive discussion of the opportunities for enhancing community food security, to communicate various forms of knowledge about disparities in the food system, and to create user friendly tools like interactive maps and county-level profiles to consolidate different data and analysis about barriers to food access and strategies to improve access in West Virginia. Rather than a focus on a single actor or institution, or a single method or tool, our study seeks to cross-pollinate our collective understanding of community food security through a diverse analysis of state, market, charitable and other community-based initiatives. While these initiatives are often treated separately, it is our hope that by bringing them into conversation, we can promote greater understanding and collaboration across coalitions of vulnerable families, anti-hunger advocates, local food advocates, and policymakers. Our intended outcome with the WV CFSA is to provide vital research assistance to emergent coalitions at the local, regional and state scale that enables these groups to effectively speak across their differences, to jointly assess food access problems, and to continue to collectively develop community food strategies that promote a more inclusive and just food system.

Bradley Wilson is the director of WVFoodlink, and heads the Food Justice Laboratory in the Department of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University. Josh Lohnes is the associate director of WVFoodlink and a research assistant in the Food Justice Laboratory. Cheryl Brown is an associate professor in Agricultural and Resource Economics at WVU and co-project director of the Appalachian Foodshed Project.


Cheryl Brown

Created by Phil D'Adamo-Damery