Papers on Appalachia & Rural Kentucky

Cooke, David; Berea College. 2010 Grow Appalachia Program. Berea College. (1 page)

This source is the result of the efforts of John DeJoria (founder of Grow Appalachia), Tommy Callahan and the Berea College garden program. Together, these folks were able to create a model that aims to alleviate food insecurity in rural communities by providing access to gardening knowledge. In rural Appalachia there are many people who have very limited access to high-quality fresh produce. There is also a generational loss of gardening, cooking and food preservation knowledge and skills. Additionally, many Appalachians have developed health problems in connection with the lack of said access and knowledge. The goal of the project is to provide these services in order to create healthy local food options, increase self-esteem through agency, and enhance the sense of community through a rediscovery of Appalachian heritage. This source could be useful for other rural areas struggling with similar issues.

Gustafson, Alison A., Sarah Lewis, Corey Wilson and Stephanie Jilcott-Pitts. 2012 Validation of food store environment secondary data source and the role of neighborhood deprivation in Appalachia, Kentucky. BMC Public Health 12(1):688. (12 pages)

The authors explore the validity of a secondary data source, InfoUSA, which is widely used for the characterization of the retail food environment in rural areas. They found that InfoUSA was extremely sensitive towards traditional food outlets, such as supermarkets and supercenters, but less sensitive towards nontraditional food outlets, such as dollar stores and farmers’ markets. InfoUSA is used to define the food environment on a macro-level and to classify the access and availability of food stores within neighborhoods. However, the lack of reliability found in this study points out the need for conducting direct observation or “ground-truthing” when analyzing food access and availability in rural areas. Additionally, the authors found that neighborhood deprivation is directly correlated with the presence of certain store types, especially those underrepresented in secondary data sources, which may or may not sell healthy food items. Thus, to improve analysis of rural food environments, direct observation or ground-truthing is necessary to validate secondary data sources, and that those underrepresented store types are better determiners of neighborhood deprivation.


Jenkins-Howard, S. Brooke, Laura Stephenson, and Mark Mains. 2013 Cooperative Extension Nutrition Education Program: Outreach to Southeastern Kentucky Families in Poverty. PRISM: A Journal of Regional Engagement 2(2):117-132. (18 pages)

This article explores the impact of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program outreach (EFNEP) on local families in a high-poverty Appalachian region of Kentucky, and compares their findings to state and national impact data. The authors found that EFNEP participants, when compared to non-EFNEP participants of similar economic status, showed improved patterns of healthy eating and consumption patterns that corresponded to dietary guidelines for all food groups. They also determined that EFNEP participants expanded the variety of basic food groups they consumed; these results were consistent at national, state, and district levels. The authors also found that many EFNEP participants added fruits and vegetables to their diet by cultivating outdoor or container gardens at home. The EFNEP was also effective in improving education about nutrition and food preparation based on individuals’ entrance and exit results, a major purpose of the program. This study, showing the efficacy of the program, provides an introduction to the implications of appropriate outreach strategies in Appalachian Kentucky.


Swanson, Mark, Nancy E. Schoenberg, Rian Davis, Sherry Wright and Kay Dollarhide. 2013 Perception of Healthy Eating and Influences on the Food Choices of Appalachian Youth. Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behavior. 45(2):147-153.(11 pages)

This study addresses the disparities in the geographic distribution of overweight and obese folks, of whom high rates are seen in Appalachian Kentucky. The authors used eleven focus groups of participants aged 8 to 17 to learn about their dietary choices. Participants expressed confidence in their own knowledge about healthy versus unhealthy food, and said that taste preference, sensory cues, convenience, and costs influenced their food selection. The participants said that social influences were especially important for future designs of healthy eating programs, as current programs did not address social influences adequately. The authors also noted variation by age and gender, for example: males tended to focus on nutritional benefits, while females focused more on cost, convenience and sensory cues. The youngest age group focused on nutrition facts and knowledge, the middle age group on taste preferences, and the oldest age group on social influences. Additionally, the authors noted that no participants mentioned traditional Appalachian food practices. Overall, these results may provide insight into how to better educate adolescents on healthy eating behaviors, and ways to help put those behaviors into practice.


Quandt, Sara A., Arcury, Thomas A.,McDonald, Juliana, Bell, Ronny A., Vitolins Mara Z. 1999 Hunger and Food Security among Older Adults in a Rural Community. Journal of Applied Gerontology. 58(1):28-34 (20 pages)

The authors examine the problem of food insecurity as one which is prevalent among elderly populations, specifically in the Appalachian region of Kentucky. Their purpose was “to contribute to the existing body of food insecurity studies by examining food insecurity in rural, multiethnic communities using a multi-method approach.” This research team collected the data by conducting structured questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and also made use of the data from previously conducted surveys by other researchers. The data they collected suggests that the elderly in this region do not have access to nutritious food. Seventeen out of 145 people reported experiencing food insecurity. This article could be helpful to someone who is trying to implement a food security program aimed at helping people in the Appalachian region. This study was done in 1999, but food security among the elderly remains a pressing issue in Appalachia. 


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