Answers to food insecurity lie in research, reform
As this year’s Buckeye Summit at Ohio State demonstrated, access to healthful and affordable food is an issue that affects too many families in Ohio and across the nation.
Given Ohio’s rich history in agriculture — and agriculture’s current status as an economic driver in the state — we have the ability and responsibility to change that unfortunate trend. Luckily, Ohio has a wealth of research and development assets to make a measurable difference, and The Ohio State University is at the forefront of that research.
Simply growing and providing more food is not the key to solving the issue of food insecurity. What is needed is a sustainable and longer-lasting supply of nutritious foods so children who lack access — there are more than 15 million in the United States alone — can receive the nutrition they need to succeed in school and life.
With fewer acres being farmed every year, it’s important that we maintain our ability to produce enough food for all Americans. Overproduction can too easily lead to food waste and increased food prices. Therefore, advanced research is critical to creating a more robust and stable food supply with innovations such as produce that can last longer and is more resistant to drought and disease. Ohio State’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center is at the forefront of this and related fields, conducting research on everything from development of new insecticides to studying best practices in preventing foodborne illness via fresh produce.
One issue we face in the larger picture of nutrition assistance is that working families sometimes lose access to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits. SNAP is vital to providing struggling families the ability to help supplement nourishment. But these programs should not trap people in poverty. We need to make it easier for those Americans working hard to make a better life for themselves and their families by giving people the chance to succeed. Reforms to SNAP must focus on incentivizing people to find work rather than removing rungs from the ladder of opportunity as they start climbing it.
As Americans, we are afforded the opportunity to seek out a better life today and a better future for our children. Service to others in an effort to make our communities safer and better is encouraged in our nation. As Buckeyes, that service is part of our DNA.
Members of the Ohio State family can make a difference by volunteering in their communities. Helping at a nonprofit food pantry, mentoring or coaching children in an after-school program or joining a local service organization are remarkable examples of how Buckeyes can make a difference in their corner of the world. By giving back to our communities, we as individuals can be a part of the larger goal of ending food insecurity.
Republican Bob Gibbs, a graduate of Ohio State’s Agricultural Technical Institute, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. He previously served in the Ohio House and Senate. Gibbs raises hogs in Holmes County and founded Hidden Hollow Farms in 1976. He began advocating for Ohio agriculture in 1985 as an Ohio Farm Bureau Federation trustee and served as Ohio Farm Bureau president for two terms. He resides in Lakeville, Ohio.
Learn about opportunities from the alumni association’s Office of Volunteer Relations.
Solutions must address income inequalityThough nearly one in six Ohio families lack reliable access to food, it’s a problem that often flies under the radar.