NEOMED Student Addresses Food Insecurity in Youngstown

The City of Youngstown is working to develop a plan to improve access to food for its residents—and a NEOMED student is involved.

Beyond a recent Youngstown Vindicator article, there’s more to tell. The story goes back to the summer of 2016, when Austin Hilt, a College of Medicine Class of 2020 student, completed an assessment of food retail outlets in Youngstown for his Master of Public Health capstone project. He wanted to learn more about residents’ perceptions and opinions of stores and foods available to them, so he created a survey, with the oversight of Kim M.K. Trowbridge, M.Ed., a graduate faculty member in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at NEOMED.

Hilt explains that as he was preparing the project plan, he got an email from community organizations who were interested in the same information. They had been convened through a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative, Invest Health, to address social determinants of health in Youngstown. “Perfect timing, I thought,’’ says Hilt. Now he is surveying throughout the city to further inform the development of a food access action plan.

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