There are numerous unforeseen issues that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while access to fresh, healthy food for most residents in Cleveland already has its obstacles, increasing additional barriers are now observed. Swetland team member and Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) Fellow, Gwendolyn Donley, has been featured on the May 2020 FFAR Newsletter discussing efforts that build on the foodNEST 2.0 project work. Gwen discusses obvious solutions to food access in food deserts, such as simply increasing the availability of healthy foods to these communities. However, research has shown that addressing just one factor is not enough due to the complexity of the environment and food systems.
Gwen and the foodNEST 2.0 project team have been working diligently to address the many factors that contribute to a healthy food system by connecting with policymakers, food business owners, food bank representatives, and researchers, as well as interviewing individuals within the community. By engaging in the many levels of the environment, the team has now developed a working food systems model that can be used to develop interventions to address many factors in the community in order to implement a positive, lasting change. Gwen expressed confidence that this intervention will be “community-driven and community-engaged, and may have wide-reaching impacts beyond the food system”! Great job, Gwen and foodNEST 2.0 team!