The Rural Food Access working group (RFAWG) convenes researchers to share resources and conduct collaborative research addressing environmental, policy, and economic issues related to rural food access. Rural food access focal areas include:
RFAWG facilitates monthly calls for all interested participants, plans, and conducts collaborative research projects and provides a forum for members to solicit expertise and involvement in their research projects.
Activity 1: Building Partnerships
More than 20 RFAWG members from all regions of the country regularly join the monthly conference calls. Some time on each call is devoted to a brief presentation of the work of one member or other expert to promote greater understanding of current topics, research questions, and methods related to rural food access. Calls provide an opportunity for networking, sharing expertise, and pursuing common research interests.
Activity 2: Collaborative Research – Developing and Pursuing a Policy Research Agenda
RFAWG seeks opportunitites for the collaborative study of rural food access topics based on a framework of research priorities that emerged from an earlier concept mapping study. That study asked rural food access experts to identify and then rate rural food access issues based on their priority for further study and policy development (see resources section below for more information).
Activity 3: Collaborative Research – Joint Research Papers and Grant Proposals
RFAWG members have collaborated to identify key issues for future policy research from the researcher, practitioner, and community perspective. Several work group members have contributed to collaborative papers describing the RFAWG, next steps in rural food access research and policy, a literature review of rural food access innovations to improve economic and health outcomes, a study of psychometric properties of a farmers’ market audit tool, and submitted a joint USDA proposal to study the health and economic impact of cost-offset CSAs.
Activity 4: Supporting Investigators – COCOMO and Community Commons
RFAWG collaborated with PAPRN members to consider adaptations of CDC’s Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention (COCOMO) to address rural needs, and developed a tool to facilitate use of Community Commons to visualize and evaluate environmental and policy changes to prevent obesity.
Download the Rural Access Overview for more information
Fleischhacker, S., Johnson, D., Quinn, E., Pitts, S. B. J., Byker, C., & Sharkey, J. R. (2013). Advancing rural food access policy research priorities: Process and potential of a transdisciplinary working group. J of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development, 3(5), 201-212.)
Sitaker, M., Kolodinsky, J., Pitts, S.B.J., & Segiun, R. (in press). Do Entrepreneurial Food Systems Innovations Impact Rural Economies and Health? American Journal of Entrepreneurship.
Click below to view Meeting Minutes and PPT slides from past monthly calls:
March 2015: ‘Farmers Market Metrics’
April 2015: MoGro Mobile Grocery Program
October 2015: The Appal-TREE Project: Community-Based Participatory Research to promote healthy eating in Appalachia
October 2016: Increasing Healthy Food Access in Communities of Low-Income and Low Access: Evaluating a Community-Initiated Food Hub (Patricia Sharpe)
February 2017: ‘Interviews with Rural Corner Store Owners in Maryland’ (Myra Shapiro)
May 2017: ‘SNAP Retailer Rule Study Update’
June 2017: ‘Packaged Food and Beverage Purchases in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’ (Anna Grummon)
December 2017: Healthy Food Financing Initiative: Program Overview & Performance Metrics (James Barham, USDA)
March 2018: Innovative USDA existing and upcoming programs in FNS
August 2018: Best Practices and Innovative Solutions to Overcome Barriers to Delivering Policy, Systems, and Environmental Changes in Rural Communities (Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, Stephanie Jilcott-Pitts)
December 2018: PhotoVoice Project with low-income rural families about food access issues (Lauri Andress, West Virginia University)
February 2019: Hungry Harvest: An Innovative Food Distribution Model (Bart Creasman)
May 2019: Examining Food Security Among Rural Low-Income Families (Lindsey Haynes-Maslow)
November 2019: Community Wide Efforts to Reduce Obesity
December 2019: The Borrowing Kitchen: Enhancing Food Pantry Nutrition (Alyssa Anderson)
January 2019: Health System Efforts to Improve Food Security and Food Access (Lisa Bailey-Davis)
April 2020: Overview of the Healthy Food Policy Project’s Emerging COVID-19 Local Government Food Access Policy Index (Amanda Karls, Public Health Law Center)
Alice S. Ammerman, DrPH, RD
Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
UNC – Chapel Hill
Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD
Department of Public Health
East Carolina University
Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, PhD, MHA
Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist
Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences
North Carolina State University
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill