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Virginia Tech leads study to improve food security in southern Appalachia
Date:8/2/2011

While the popularity of locally and regionally grown food is on the rise among Americans, food accessibility remains a major concern for those with limited financial resources. Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is collaborating with West Virginia University and North Carolina State University to develop, implement, and evaluate a food security strategy to enhance the resiliency of the Southern Appalachian region, with a special focus on local food access and affordability for low-income populations.

"The Southern Appalachian region has historically struggled with high levels of food insecurity and economic instability," said Susan Clark, associate professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise and lead investigator on the study. "We aim to enhance knowledge of barriers and opportunities for improving food security and economic viability through local and regional food system development in this region."

A thriving local food system provides ample opportunity to improve human health, reconnect people with the land, allow existing farmers to prosper, and attract new farmers to agriculture, Clark explained.

"Food security is built on the framework that the foodshed has all the dimensions of the food system from farm to table. We will investigate whether the region has all of the components to have a resilient community foodshed," said Clark. "This research project will attempt to identify and fill this scientific gap by combining a sustainable food systems modeling approach with a community-based, participatory research process to examine existing university, Extension, and local activities that illustrate ongoing efforts to improve food access and affordability, followed by implementing proposed interventions and evaluations."

Using the community participation process, Clark and her colleagues will build coalitions and gather information along with area and nongovernmental organizations. The coa
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Contact: Lori Greiner
lgreiner@vt.edu
540-231-5863
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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