The southeastern Ohio region has long struggled with high levels of poverty and lack of convenient access to grocery stores. Understanding the complexities of food insecurity and barriers to healthy food access cannot be solved by any one organization, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville (the Foundation) has developed strong partnerships to advance collaborative efforts designed to increase availability, affordability and consumption of healthy, local food.

In 2013, the Foundation provided funding for a joint planning effort of three organizations making important contributions to increase food access in the region and who recognized the potential for greater impact through enhanced collaboration. The planning effort of Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), Community Food Initiatives (CFI) and Rural Action resulted in a seven-year plan to measurably increase the availability, affordability and consumption of healthy, local food. With implementation support from the Foundation, the organizations formalized the partnership, calling it the Appalachia Accessible Food Network (AAFN).

This alignment of efforts has significantly increased the production, aggregation, processing and distribution of local food to address chronic food insecurity. Learn more about the collective impact of this partnership in the Seven-Year Retrospective Report released by AAFN in October 2021.