IMPACT: From
Food to Water

Targeting food insecurity in Central Ohio

An interdisciplinary group of researchers is teaming up with external partners like Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Columbus Public Health and Local Matters to create a food map of Columbus neighborhoods. Food maps utilize surveys, census data and other information to visually depict areas of the city in which fresh, nutritious food is plentiful—or hard to come by. The team, led by Michelle Kaiser (social work), is analyzing and geocoding the data gathered—including information on how often and where people obtain their food, the type of transportation they use to get there, their access to a stove and the amount of fruits and vegetables they consume—with the goal of designing interventions that impact food security and improve health.

Improving water quality in Ohio

The Field to Faucet Initiative is an innovative suite of research and extension efforts aimed at ensuring safe drinking water while keeping farms productive and profitable. The initiative began in 2014 after a water quality crisis in Lake Erie. The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences invested $1 million to get the effort off the ground. Led by Jay Martin (food, agricultural and biological engineering), the effort is tapping interdisciplinary talent at Ohio State and partnering with other universities and industry to tackle harmful algal blooms that have threatened Lake Erie’s drinking water and farming in surrounding communities. The initiative has conducted training to reduce fertilizer impact on water supplies with 6,500 growers and producers who collectively farm one million Ohio acres. It is also developing an app to record nutrient application information, a data warehouse so producers and researchers can share data, a sensor to detect microcystin levels in Lake Erie and removing phosphorus and nitrogen from manure and anaerobic digester discharge before they are applied to fields. This unprecedented effort promises to protect Lake Erie and the health of Ohio communities.