West Virginia Food Desert Summit

West Virginia

West Virginia University (WVU) Davis College of Agriculture and School of Public Health, with assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), have been working to identify the structural factors that create food deserts or serve as barriers to food security in West Virginia. 



For this third convening, the aim was to develop a community-driven plan of action that builds on the assets and activities already underway in the region. The goals of this convening were to:


  1. Catalog the roles and programmatic activities of groups that are currently addressing food deserts in West Virginia, as well as gaps in these approaches.

  2. Develop proposals that cross issues and perspectives of several sectors and create new ideas that actors should take on to address food deserts in West Virginia. 

  3. Identify the roles of key stakeholder groups that can enact these ideas and help address food deserts in West Virginia.



Fourth Economy co-created the summit based on a guiding "Vision Statement" and theory of the "Lenses of Food Desert Conversations" developed by Dr. Lauri Andress over the course of her research into the claims, narratives, images, and ideas used by food systems experts and advocates in West Virginia.


Speakers from around the state provided perspectives and context related to their work and experience in the fields of food production, retail, and funding. Our team facilitated small group exercises to engage participants in an exploration of existing activities and gaps in the state, as well as to brainstorm new ideas for initiatives that key stakeholder groups, anchors, and institutional players could take on to help fill existing gaps.



The result of the Food Desert Summit was a set of action ideas that build on the assets and activities already underway in the region and fill existing gaps. It is the hope of the organizers that stakeholders will continue toward a path of developing multi-sectored solutions to the complex issue of food insecurity in West Virginia.


Economic Development Strategy





Government/Higher Education Institution