Food Innovation Center

Collaborating for a healthier, hunger-free world.

Food Mapping

Food Mapping

In June 2013, the Food Innovation Center awarded an Innovation Initiative to the Mapping the Food Environment project.

The objectives of this research initiative were:

  1. To develop a comprehensive, user-friendly food access data hub to facilitate research and collaboration for food mapping-related research to enhance productivity and maximize community benefit;
  2. To integrate secondary and primary data sets related to food security, food access, food production, health, community assets, sociodemographic variables, and food affordability for use in translational outcomes-based research;
  3. To integrate and enhance the existing mapping and modeling methodologies that have been developed by team members, and test and improve food environment indicators for use in evaluating policy interventions. Results of this project will provide the infrastructure and preliminary data and results for grant proposals to USDA, CDC, and health-oriented foundations (e.g., Robert Wood Johnson).

As part of this research effort, the team administered a survey to residents of sections of central Columbus covering the neighborhoods of Milo-Grogan, Weinland Park, Victorian Village, Italian Village, Downtown, Franklinton and the Near East Side. The specific objective of the survey effort was to obtain localized primary data (Objective 2 above) from the perspectives of Columbus residents that will help the Food Mapping Team:

  1. Develop a detailed spatial understanding of the food environment;
  2. Compare food environments of diverse populations living in different areas and
    comprised of different sociodemographic characteristics;
  3. Provide community partners and policymakers with reliable, representative data
    pertaining to food access, food patterns and behaviors, health conditions related to diet, food security, and neighborhood characteristics.


The Mapping the Food Environment survey was a six-part, 88-question survey instrument intended to help the team gain a better understanding of how and where residents of central Columbus get their food, and what factors influence their decisions about what they eat. The survey was administered in-person at several sites throughout our study area in central Columbus, and was also available online. Participants in the survey were eligible to enter a raffle for prizes including grocery giftcards and Apple iPad Minis.

The online survey was open to anyone age 18 or older residing in ZIP codes 43201, 43203, 43204, 43205, 43209, 43211, 43215, 43219, 43222, and 43223.

Survey results are currently being compiled. Once compiled, the primary data from the survey (as well as secondary data from the USDA's food environmental atlas, Columbus Public Health, the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources) will be housed in a food access data hub at CURA and will be publicly available. OSU faculty will use the analysis for further research, while community partners will be able to use the knowledge gained to inform their work in the community.

The OSU Food Mapping Team

The OSU Food Mapping Team is an interdisciplinary group of OSU researchers and community stakeholders who share an interest in using mapping and spatial analysis to gain a deeper understanding of our food environment. The team was formed with the support of a Team Award from OSU’s Food Innovation Center. In 2013, the team received a second grant from the FIC: an Innovation Initiative grant to support the team’s Mapping the Food Environment project.


Ola Ahlqvist
Associate Professor and Director for the Service Learning Initiative
Department of Geography

Jill Clark
Assistant Professor
John Glenn School of Public Affairs

Richard Hicks
Health Planner
Columbus Public Health

Casey Hoy
Professor and Kellogg Endowed Chair in Agricultural Ecosystems Management
Agroecosystems Management Program

Michelle Kaiser
Assistant Professor
College of Social Work

Matt Kleinhenz
Professor, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Horticulture and Crop Science

Jack Nasar
City & Regional Planning

Morton O’Kelly
Professor and Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis
Department of Geography

Nicholas Stanich

Executive Director
Franklinton Gardens


Agroecosystems Management Program (AMP)
Casey Hoy, Ben Kerrick, Hannah Whitehead

School of Environment and Natural Resources
Kerry Ard, Stacy Haught, Jeff Sharp

Julie Fox, Dan Remley

Food Innovation Center
Steven Clinton

Department of Geography
Ola Ahlqvist, Morton O’Kelly

John Glenn School of Public Affairs
Jill Clark

Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Haleh Dolati, David Norris, Jason Reece, Christy Rogers, Hayden Shelby, Glennon Sweeney

Knowlton School of Architecture, City & Regional Planning section
Jennifer Cowley, Bernadette Hanlon, Jack Nasar

College of Medicine, Division of Medical Dietetics
Diane Habash, Colleen Spees, Chris Taylor

Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC)
Casey Hoy, Matt Kleinhenz

College of Public Health
Gail Kaye, Rory Weier

College of Social Work
Michelle Hand, Michelle Kaiser, Keith Kilty

Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA)
Xiang (Peter) Chen, Julia Elmer, Shaun Fontanella, Morton O’Kelly


Columbus Public Health

Franklinton Gardens

Learn4Life Columbus

Local Matters

Merion Village Association

Mid-Ohio Foodbank

Nationwide Children’s Hospital


Learn more about Mapping the Food Environment at