Dr. Jill Clark, an assistant professor at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, will take part in a $3.96 million project that aims to enhance food security by reconnecting farmers with consumers living in food deserts of the United States.
The project — Building Local Government Capacity to Alleviate Food Deserts — will looks at ways local government policies have helped or hindered direct linkages between producers and people living in food deserts.
“Our team will be working across the country to identify the best policy innovations that support the local food economy and provide greater food access to communities most in need,” said Clark, whose research centers on food and agricultural system policy, planning and economic development along with sustainable food markets and infrastructure.
The grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will allow Clark along with primary-investigator Samina Raja, University at Buffalo, State University Of New York and co-investigators Julia Freedgood, American Farmland Trust and Kimberley Hodgson of Cultivating Healthy Places to create and provide policy tools and training to help local governments alleviate food deserts. Clark will receive more than $270,000 for her part of the project.
The team will also provide technical assistance to 10 urban and 10 rural 'Communities of Opportunity' in four regions of the United States. Technical assistance will help extension educators, consumers, farmers and their advocates to effectively participate in local policy-making processes that impact the food system.
“Our project will be supported by stakeholder-driven, community-relevant research on what works,” said Clark
As part of its educational mission, the project also will develop and disseminate multi-disciplinary graduate curriculum materials on food systems policy for adoption by 10 partner universities. The project will launch a doctoral fellowship in food systems planning, the first in the country.
“With over 17 million U.S. households classified by the USDA as food insecure, this integrated outreach, teaching and research initiative couldn’t be more timely,” said Clark.
Before joining the faculty of the Glenn School, Clark directed the Center for Farmland Policy Innovation at The Ohio State University from its opening in 2006 until her departure in 2012. Before coming to Ohio State, she directed American Farmland Trust’s Ohio office, a national non-profit.
Professor Clark also provides statewide leadership for the newly forming Ohio Network of Food Policy Councils and national leadership as a member of the eXtension Food Systems Community of Practice team, a partnership of over two dozen universities.