This research sought to explore nutrition and related health issues of 151 households with children who participated in a survey addressing food access, food security, nutrition, health, food provisioning strategies, and barriers to optimal food consumption. This study explored the potential use of community food security strategies as a tool to address public health concerns through increasing fruit and vegetable intake by improving access to affordable healthy foods. Poor diet, stress, and food insecurity impacts adults and children in terms of cognitive development, mental health, and risk for costly chronic diseases. This research contextualized consumer responses within a contemporary policy and programmatic framework to explore the potential usefulness of federal, state, and local programs in the public and private sector.

Key Take Away Points

  • In all households, fruit and vegetable intake was significantly less than US dietary recommendations, but very low food secure households with children consumed less than one serving of fruit each day and less than eight each week putting household members at great risk for nutritional deficiencies and related physical and mental health problems.
  • Neighborhood-based corner stores and partial markets are potential food retail spaces in which initiatives that expand affordable healthy food options through store-based incentives and/or participation in WIC or SNAP make sense for communities in which food insecure households are most burdened by food costs and challenged by having to travel long distances to access a supermarket with limited transportation.
  • Community food security strategies that expand upon current government-based food programs to be used to purchase food at farmers' markets, through Community Supported Agriculture Programs, or doubled up at authorized markets, are a win-win for consumer and producers since consumers are able to make their food dollars stretch and that money supports local producers and a local food economy.

Author Biography

Michelle Kaiser, PhD, MSW, MPH is an Assistant Professor at Ohio State University in the College of Social Work. She is the PI of the Food Innovation Center-funded Food Mapping Team. Kaiser's research focused on community food security measurement and strategies, community-university partnerships, and social and environmental justice. She was trained at the University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center on Food Security and the Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems.

Kareem Usher, PhD, MA is an Assistant Professor in City and Regional planning at the Knowlton School of Architecture in the College of Engineering at Ohio State University. He previously completed a post-doc at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, is a member of the Food Innovation Center, and is a member of the Food Mapping Team. His research focuses on urban food systems, food access, social justice, regional governance, and community economic development.

Colleen Spees, PhD, MEd, RDN, LD, FAND is an Assistant Professor of Medical Dietetics and Health Sciences at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is an active Food Innovation Center member and a PI for the Hunger.FOOD.Health Food Security Initiative. She is a member of the Food Mapping Team and has initiated a number of studies related to food security and health, especially related to cancer prevention and chronic disease in disparate populations.


We are grateful to the Ohio State University Food Innovation Center for funding through their Innovation Initiative program (2013-2015). We appreciate our community-university team comprised of 14 faculty and 5 community partners. We are thankful for the students who collected data and the participants who gave voice to this research.