Food Innovation Center

Collaborating for a healthier, hunger-free world.

Food Strategy and Policy: Working Toward a Healthier, Hunger-free World

Food and nutrition problems are often entangled in a complex web involving public health, food distribution, safe-food trade policies, and food industry regulations. The Food Innovation Center is identifying and assembling a network of researchers across academic disciplines to tackle local, state, national, and global food concerns. 

Efforts and Impact

Urban Garden in Cleveland


food entrepreneur

Urban Food Systems
Center teams led by Drs. Casey Hoy and Parwinder Grewal are cultivating a new paradigm in urban and regional planning and design that integrates rural and urban ecosystems and generates renewable food and energy resources.

Grewal’s team has received national attention for their investigation of the value of urban agriculture to bolster the health, well-being, and economic viability of a Cleveland, Ohio neighborhood. Findings from the team’s study supported the idea that that post-industrial cities can meet substantially more of their food needs locally by producing food on rooftops and in currently vacant lots. Furthermore, FIC funded an additional team led by Grewal to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to examine if localization of  urban food supplies outweighs the costs and benefits of global (non-local) food supplies. This study will attempt to answer questions about whether urbanizing food systems make economic sense due to economies of scale created by large scale farming systems.

 Local Food Systems Logo

Building Local Food Economies on Agriculture
Through Dr. Casey Hoy's work in the Agroecosystems Management Program at OARDC in Wooster, OH, a social networking website,, was created during a local food system distribution infrastructure workshop at the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture in 2008. Entrepreneurs can use the tools on the site to connect their ideas into an ecosystem of locally owned businesses, existing and planned, and find the capital needed to launch their businesses as entire supply chains.

Child Eating Lunch

 Local Food Security and Health
A Center team led by Dr. Colleen Spees proposes there is a parallel between disparities in food access and health care access.  Through an emerging partnership with Mid-Ohio Food Bank (MOFB), the Food Innovation Center seeks to improve access to culturally appropriate, health-promoting food for low-income individuals and families across Central Ohio.  FIC experts in social work, medicine, and crop science hope to add value to the food bank's processes to increase food security in vulnerable populations.  The team will collect data in order to identify participant demographics, availability of food, and access to healthcare.  The goal is to improve food distribution patterns in MOFB pantries, impact the health of Central Ohio food insecure individuals via food, and pilot a health education intervention for those suffering from chronic disease.  This will allow food banks to identify which foods are appropriate to give to a patient, such as those with diabetes, and how they are essential to personal nutrition and health.  The team will identify the frequency and severity of medical disparities, determine customer knowledge regarding personal nutrition, and evaluate how these factors impact food choices. 

 Super market aisle

The Business and Economics of Food
Business, contracting, and the economics of the food and agricultural industry are evolving area of interests for FIC. Through upcoming events and forums, the Center plans to convene experts from diverse academic disciplines to examine organizational structures, geographical locations of firms, and cooperative agreements to see how they contribute to innovation and generate value within the food industry.