The following is a reflection from Devra Roberts, ACEnet’s Food Access Partners Coordinator. In her time here, she facilitated dynamic partnerships between ACEnet, Community Food Initiatives, and Rural Action in order to accelerate the expansion of healthy, local food access in Appalachian communities. To learn more about the Appalachia Accessible Food Network:

“I have always felt intimately connected to the world that I live in, the region I grew up in, the home of my heart and soul. Southeast Ohio is much more than extraction and energy and bust and boom. Working with the Appalachian Accessible Food Network I have had the opportunity to be involved in an entire system of food production and distribution that I would never have fully discovered otherwise. I have seen passion, and focus, and kindness, and drive. Often all at the same time. It feels good to be participating in a system that works so hard to uplift friends, neighbors, and strangers.

The best part of the work to me was listening to the voices of the different people involved in the food system. From farmers, to processors, grocers, and partners. Every person you speak to has their own unique story and fills their own spot in the web.

I am leaving, but I am leaving a better person than when I arrived. I have learned so much from the people at ACEnet, Community Food Initiatives, and Rural Action. People are good, and the world is kind. Food is grown and given. There is trauma in the ground below us and the people around us, but there is also passion and success and the potential to thrive for those that haven’t yet. Food and people grow together here.”

We wish Devra the best of luck in the next chapter of her life!