Food Insecurity in Cincinnati
Food insecurity is defined as the lack of access to enough quality, nutritious food necessary for a healthy, active life. Food insecurity can be impacted by many factors, including the affordability of food items, distribution and location of places to purchase food, and availability of healthy food options. Across the Cincinnati region, more than 270,000 households experience food insecurity.
Over the past 10 years, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana tristate region has seen a steady uptick in the demand for food, which has increased by 60% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food Deserts in Cincinnati
One factor that contributes to food insecurity in the Cincinnati region is the rise of “food deserts” — or areas where it is difficult to find affordable, healthy food. In recent years, grocery stores like Kroger have shut down a number of stores in neighborhoods with significant populations of low- to moderate-level-income residents and people of color.
Residents in neighborhoods like Mt. Airy, Over-the-Rhine and Walnut Hills must now travel further to find fresh, healthy groceries. Many rely on public transportation, which has been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes have made it harder for residents to put food on the table and pushed them to shop in locations like convenience stores that lack certain things they frequently bought in the past. This lack of access to quality, affordable food contributes to hunger in the region, leading to an increased demand for food and local support services.
Child Hunger in Cincinnati
More than 76,000 children living in the 20 counties in the tristate area are food insecure. With school closures brought on by COVID-19, childhood hunger is a growing reality in the Cincinnati region. According to a study conducted by researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, childhood food insecurity has been associated with negative health outcomes, including iron-deficiency anemia, overweight or obese status, increased likelihood of hospitalization or illness, increased risk of developmental delays, and lower physical and psychosocial functioning.
Through the Growing Beyond Hunger initiative, the Freestore Foodbank is working with community partners to ensure no child or individual goes hungry in the region. With 511 partner agencies and 48 school pantries across 20 counties, Growing Beyond Hunger and the Freestore Foodbank aim to close the hunger gap in the Cincinnati region.
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