Date of Award

Spring 4-21-2023


Dr. Meredith Niles

Dr. Ashley McCarthy

Dr. Farryl Bertmann

Project Description

Rural communities have historically faced higher levels of food insecurity and lower healthcare access than their urban counterparts. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges of accessing adequate and equitable food and healthcare resources, especially in rural pockets of poverty. Maine and Vermont are the most rural states in the US with over 61% of both populations living in rural areas. Drawing from recent 2022 survey data collected by the National Food Access COVID Research Team (NFACT), this project will seek to contextualize the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food and healthcare accessibility in Northern New England. The intention of this research is to fill gaps in knowledge that link rural food security and health outcomes. To further assess the factors related to food security and health outcomes, a network analysis will be produced and will contribute to building a set of food and healthcare access scales. Although similar types of access scales currently exist to provide further insight into gaps of service, limited research has been focused on creating spatial mapping that overlays food and healthcare access locations in Northern New England. The geospatial component of this project, combined with three other deliverables (two vignette databanks and an infographic) in an effort to “humanize hunger” and provide useful insight into the lived experiences of rural residents and the barriers they face within the current food system. This project aims to illuminate the voices of real people and use their responses as a tool to advocate for the expansion of food and healthcare access in rural areas that are experiencing high levels of food insecurity.

Project Approach


Document Type