C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy Examines Food Insecurity in Ohio

Dec. 13, 2013

On December 5, 2013, Ohio State’s C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy, which is overseen by AEDE’s Professor Mark Partridge, held its biannual meeting of advisory committee members.

The meeting focused on the theme of food insecurity in Ohio, and in particular, examined food access issues for Ohioans since the last recession. The meeting featured presentations from Nora Balduff, Director of Child and Senior Nutrition at the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, and Terri Mangano, Special Populations Program Coordinator for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.  Additionally, Partridge gave an update on Swank Program news and research initiatives.

At each biannual meeting the Swank team invites discussion on a topic that they are interested in pursuing research on in the upcoming months. This enables the advisory team to vet the topic and offer potential research questions and insight to the Swank team.

In her presentation, Balduff reported that in Ohio 1 out of 5 people experienced food hardship in 2013; additionally, also in 2013, 25% of Ohio’s youth lived in food insecure households. Balduff also noted that Ohio is ranked fifth in the nation for having a high cost of hunger with 3.5 million Ohioans with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Mangano also presented similar statistics for the state. She reflected on findings from the 2010 Hunger in America survey that showed that 57% of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s program recipients reported having to choose between buying food and paying their utility bills, while 43% reported having to choose between buying food and paying their rent or mortgage.

The Swank Program Advisory Committee is comprised of public sector partners from Ohio economic departments, planning commissions, and environmental councils, as well as contacts with interests in agriculture, economic development, and energy policy, who are from the private sector, the non-profit world, or academia.

The C. William Swank Program identifies and organizes research led by The Ohio State University focused on rural-urban policy and rural and regional development. Swank Program activities have included organizing national conferences and symposia, undertaking and sponsoring analysis of policy options, striving to improve communication among interests at the rural-urban interface, bringing timely information to policymakers and citizens, and establishing a national center of excellence on rural-urban policy research and education at Ohio State.

The Swank Chair was named in honor of Dr. William Swank, retired Executive Vice President of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, who for over 50 years provided outstanding leadership and vision in addressing both rural and urban issues, recognizing the need for objective analysis to promote the understanding and resolution of critical policy issues at the rural-urban interface.

December 13, 2013