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Food System Stories: Jessica's Story

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

This post is part of a series of community-driven storytelling about experiences in our regional food system, called Food System Stories.

The Community Advisory Board of our Community Voices in Food Movement project proposed this effort, through which we are capturing videos, images, and words to spotlight what residents of our neighborhoods do to feed themselves and their families.

Food System Stories are being used to facilitate discussion about systems change in our Community Voices meetings and in conversations with decision makers in partner organizations.


Jessica lives in Norwood and works across Cincinnati neighborhoods as a Community Organizer for nonprofit Cohear, building relationships for community engagement. She grew up housing- and food-insecure, but an early appreciation for hospitality and garden veggies led her to become a professional chef, before taking on her current role. In these abridged interview videos, Jessica shares about the social and emotional values of food, the food-related challenges she observes in Cincinnati, and getting kids into the *magic* of vegetables.


Food is so near and dear to people's hearts, because all major events are centered around meals, and I think so many of our family memories have a taste, have a sense. [...] And if we can make that emotional attachment to healthy foods by teaching people to do it together and to be not afraid to fail and adventurous, I think that's how you change food culture. Because it's a part of us. We don't just need it to live, we also enjoy doing it, with people.

As someone who grew up food insecure, I always wished somebody would ask me [what I needed]. Like I don't need your ramen. I can afford ramen. What we need is olive oil, so we can cook some of these things. I don't need macaroni. I've had macaroni 5,000 ways!


This work is supported by APHA, a membership association that champions the health of all people and all communities, with support from the Aetna Foundation, an independent, charitable, philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health. The views presented here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the American Public Health Association or the Aetna Foundation, its directors, officers, or staff.


🎤 If you have a story to tell, get in touch with us through our Food Systems Analyst, Maddie, at

Check out other Stories in this series. and come back soon for new Stories.

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