Impact Stories

About Appalachia Accessible Food Network

In 2013, the Appalachia Accessible Food Network (AAFN) was created to expand and diversify coordinated efforts to measurably increase the availability, affordability and consumption of healthy food among low-income, vulnerable populations in southeastern Ohio.

AAFN’s lead partners – Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), Community Food Initiatives (CFI) and Rural Action – each delivered programming critical to improving food security and access in the region, but recognized the potential for significantly greater impact by working in a more collaborative and coordinated way.

By strategically working together over the last several years, AAFN has facilitated transformative change across the region. The AAFN collaboration builds the capacity of each of the organizational partners to address food insecurity, expand food processing and distribution infrastructure and create new economic opportunities for underserved people and communities.

 Leslie Schaller, ACEnet Director of Programs

Foundation Support for the Appalachia Accessible Food Network

The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville (the Foundation) recognized cohesion among several regional organizations dedicated to food access and development of the local agricultural value chain. The identified agencies were eager to collaborate and began by creating a joint theory of change to be implemented over a seven-year period.

Following completion of the theory of change, the Appalachia Accessible Food Network (the Network) formally launched with support from the Foundation. Over the seven-year period, the collaborative efforts yielded impressive results through core program areas:


  • Donation Station: contributions are received each week from customers and vendors at the Athens Farmers Market, Chesterhill Produce Auction and from community gardeners committed to distributing fresh, healthy food. The amount of fresh food supplied has grown by more than 250% since 2013, with more than 600,000 total pounds of food distributed across a seven-county area.
  • Country Fresh Stops: pop-up markets offering fresh, local vegetables, fruits, herbs and a variety of healthy food are located in communities with limited access to healthy foods and high levels of food insecurity. Locations include hospitals, colleges and several convenience and retail stores. The amount of fresh food distributed annually has grown by more than 240% since 2013.
  • Farm to School: AAFN provides local, healthy food to area schools. Produce is procured from more than 150 local farmers at the Chesterhill Produce Auction, frozen for year-round distribution by volunteers at the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank and Hocking College Culinary Arts Program and distributed to K-12 schools. In 2020, seven districts purchased produce through this program serving a total of 5,600 students. This program also supports schools with promotional materials, ongoing technical assistance and education.
  • Infrastructure Improvements: the entire food distribution system relies on the availability of adequate storage, transportation and supply chains. AAFN has acquired equipment to expand refrigerator and freezer storage and secured an additional transport trailer, increasing the capacity to distribute fresh food. The Nelsonville Farm and Food Enterprise Center has also expanded its offerings to local food entrepreneurs to include produce and meat processing facilities.

In 2018, AAFN launched SEO FOODLINK, a regional, online resource to better inform and connect food insecure families to food resources and help service providers better assess existing systems and to identify resource gaps. Additionally a new pilot program, in cooperation with Athens County Job and Family Services, will offer training to support job-readiness and food industry-specific education to low-income residents, preparing them for employment in food-related businesses.


Learn more about the Appalachia Accessible Food Network by viewing the video below.
Athens Facility: 94 Columbus Road, Athens, Ohio, 45701
Nelsonville Facility: 296 S. Harper Street, Nelsonville, Ohio 45764
(740) 592-3854

317 Board

The Athens Hocking Vinton Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (317 Board) is part of Ohio’s county and regional network of agencies responsible for planning, developing, funding and evaluating a community-based system of care for individuals in need of behavioral health and substance use disorder services.

Appalachia Accessible Food Network

In 2013, the Appalachia Accessible Food Network (AAFN) was created to expand and diversify coordinated efforts to measurably increase the availability, affordability and consumption of healthy food among low-income, vulnerable populations in southeastern Ohio.

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is a regional community foundation serving Appalachian Ohio’s 32 counties, with a mission to create opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s citizens and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy.

CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence

CHOICES is committed to excellence in serving domestic violence victims and survivors in Central Ohio and has served as the sole resource for those seeking shelter in Franklin County for more than four decades.

Hopewell Health Centers

Hopewell Health Centers, Inc. (Hopewell) provides access to affordable, high quality integrated healthcare for all. Designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center, Hopewell provides comprehensive health services throughout southeastern Ohio, regardless of a patient's ability to pay.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

Our Lady of Guadalupe Center (OLGC) is a program of Catholic Social Services, which evolved from an immigrant woman’s desire to give back to the Hispanic community in Columbus.

Athens Photographic Project

Athens Photographic Project (APP) is a vibrant community of artists dedicated to using photography as a tool for self-expression, personal growth and community contribution within the journey of mental health recovery.


For more than a decade, the Foundation has partnered with Maryhaven, one of Ohio’s most respected substance use recovery organizations, to continue to improve access to recovery services in Central Ohio.

Dr. Robert Nagele

Development of blood-based diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Breast Cancer.

Dr. Elizabeth A. Beverly

Pioneering the use of virtual reality to improve the lives of patients with diabetes.

Dr. Andrea Amalfitano

Developing technology to turn viruses into safe, effective and scalable gene therapies.

Dr. Brian Degenhardt

Demonstrating the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative medicine in patient care

Dr. Nathaniel Szewczyk

Impacting patient care through the study of muscle health

Dr. Brian Clark

Prevention and treatment of age-related muscle weakness and bone fractures.