Advancing Rural Food Access Policy Research Priorities: Process and Potential of a Transdisciplinary Working Group
Keywords:Community Development, Food Access, Food Systems, Policy Research, Public Health, Rural
AbstractResidents of rural communities currently face disproportionately higher risk for nutrition-related chronic diseases compared to residents of urban communities. Rural residents also face disparities and unique barriers in accessing healthy, affordable foods. In 2011, participants of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)–funded Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN) formed the Rural Food Access Working Group (RFAWG). Since then, the RFAWG has been focusing on conducting collaborative transdisciplinary research that includes a concept mapping project that identified and prioritized policy research ideas perceived as important to improving access to healthy, affordable foods in rural communities. This commentary reflects on the process and potential of this emergent transdisciplinary RFAWG to advance rural food access policy research priorities, sharing how after nearly two years of convening, RFAWG has identified and started to address various rural food access policy research needs and opportunities that the group has deemed important for the near and long-term. The research priorities and process taken thus far by RFAWG reflect the participants' own work, institutional and geographic strengths, and negotiated approaches to collaborating with the transdisciplinary team using pooled but often limited resources. The group has benefited from the involvement of a variety of experts skilled in various disciplines and research methodologies touching the food system. RFAWG continues to strategize methods to advance rural food access policy research priorities through transdisciplinary team efforts, innovative partnerships, rigorously designed research processes, and contextually crafted dissemination and translation approaches.
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