COVID-19 highlighted notable systemic weaknesses across the food system in Ohio and the U.S. at large. These impacts emphasize the need to better understand the roles of and relationships between public sector stakeholders and partners in the food system in order to effectively plan for and respond to future emergencies.
In 2020 Ohio State University (OSU) and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA) partnered to explore how Ohio agencies and organizations responded to the pandemic and to map the policy environment around food and agriculture in Ohio to better prepare for future emergencies, disasters and disruptions.
The research found that while the “Food and Agriculture Sector” is one of the US Federal Government’s 16 identified “Critical Infrastructure Sectors”, there is little integration of food and agricultural systems into emergency management planning, response and recovery efforts.
To understand this gap in Ohio, Josh Vittie with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency presented to the OFPN to share his perspective on the disconnects and opportunities for strengthening relationships and collaborations across food, agriculture and emergency management practitioners, advocates and academics. In his role as Ohio’s Mass Care Emergency Support Function (ESF-6) Coordinator Josh and his team are responsible for coordinating feeding operations during an emergency, which came under extreme stress during COVID-19.
Josh covered a lot of territory in his presentation, attendees were particularly struck by the “Fog of Response Map”, a visualization that helps us better understand the chaotic response to COVID-19 by bringing home the complex administrative and financial policy and program relationships across federal, state and local food related policies and programs.
To learn more about the “Preparing for Food System Resiliency in Ohio: Policy and Planning Lessons from COVID-19” project collaboration between Ohio EMA and OSU visit the project website to download the final report, executive summary, food policies of Ohio downloadable database, and policy maps. Find the site at Emergencies, Disasters and Ohio’s Food System | Center for Community and Working Landscapes (osu.edu)
You can access the recording of Josh’s presentation here.