A group of 44 Supply Chain Technology students from WVU visited a food hub in the Wheeling area as part of its collaborative effort with Grow Ohio Valley to combat food insecurity. The students from the John Chambers College of Business and Economics walked to a greenhouse on one of GOV’s farms.

WVU supply chain students tackle state food desert

A group of West Virginia University students is addressing the growing problem of “food deserts” in the state, as the combination of a declining rural population and below average income have left many West Virginians living significant distances from supermarkets and reliable food sources. That project, as it turns out, may not only help with West Virginia’s food access problem, but may also address the problem on a global scale.

Supply chain students at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics have struck a partnership with the Grow Ohio Valley organization in Wheeling on a project aimed at reducing food deserts. Through the partnership, 44 students from the supply chain technology course are helping Grow Ohio Valley get healthy and affordable food into the hands of those who want and need it, culminating with the May opening of The Public Market, to be located in the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Terminal in downtown Wheeling.

“This was a great opportunity to put all of these supply chain processes together,” said supply chain management associate professor John Saldanha. “At our business school, we believe that, in order to remain relevant, we owe these students opportunities to apply what they learn in a real-world environment. And this is a project for the greater good because it is addressing a real-world problem of food insecurity in West Virginia.”

According to U.S. hunger relief organization Feeding America, 267,280 West Virginians, including 75,970 children, are “food insecure,” meaning that they do not know where or when they will get their next meal.

Senior global supply chain management major and Pittsburgh native Rena Kobelak said the project has not only yielded new ways to help eliminate food deserts, but has provided valuable real-world experiences for students.

“With GOV’s newest retail outlet, the Public Market, opening in May 2019, we worked to build out their materials handling, production processes, demand management, retail offerings at the public market and the information management system from field to fork,” Kobelak said. “This is a victory all the way around. Wheeling area residents get fresh, healthy, affordable food. People who don’t have a convenient place to shop for good food will have one. And, this is a perfect example of experiential learning. We are working on addressing a social challenge. It’s not a nice clean situation wrapped up in a box for us to solve. We had to do research and really work hard on how to help make GOV’s efforts successful. This wasn’t easy, but it has been a really gratifying, real-world opportunity for all six groups of students.”

Holly Leister, a senior supply chain major from Montgomery, Pennsylvania, said the project applied the principals students learned in Saldanha’s class, including what customers want. Leister added that the GOV project will go far beyond fruits and vegetables, providing value-added products like frozen foods and healthy choices for working families and people with busy home schedules.

“Customers want the 7 Rs: the right product at the right place at the right price for the right customer in the right condition at the right time in the right quantity,” Leister said.

Grow Ohio Valley was founded in Wheeling in 2014, and has completed the conversion of two acres of abandoned urban land into diversified vegetable farms and an additional 3.5 acres in production at a rural farm site. In 2017, GOV also planted a 3.5-acre orchard in collaboration with the Wheeling Housing Authority.



The Brushy Fork Event Center is ready to host everything from elegant weddings to corporate conferences. And when things don't go exactly as planned, the skilled staff is ready do what it takes to ensure every event is a success.

City ponders path forward as CVB relinquishes management of the Event Center at Brushy Fork

BUCKHANNON – Starting in April, a new entity will be managing the Event Center at Brushy Fork – but just who that is remains in flux after a lengthy discussion at Buckhannon City Council’s meeting Thursday explored several potential options, […]

Become a premium member to unlock immediate access to this story — and thousands more. Free trial available! Signing up is easy — just tap the button below.

Support Your Local Restaurants: The Links

By the Secret Chef If you believe life is too short to cook all the time (or maybe never 😉), The Links Restaurant located in the historic Buckhannon Country Club, now open to the public,


Basketball ‘Cats score season-low 38 points in loss to Salem

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Wesleyan men’s basketball team lost a non-conference matchup to Salem on Wednesday night 74-38. The Bobcats were held to their lowest point total of the season, shooting 17-64 (27%)

WVWC softball picked to win MEC South Divison

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Frostburg State and West Virginia Wesleyan have been picked to win divisional championships during the 2023 Mountain East Conference softball season following a vote of the league’s head coaches. Frostburg State has been picked

Upshur County Sports Calendar

MONDAY (Feb. 6) Basketball TUESDAY (Feb. 7) Basketball Swimming WEDNESDAY (Feb. 8) Basketball Swimming THURSDAY (Feb. 9) Basketball Swimming FRIDAY (Feb. 10) Swimming Wrestling SATURDAY (Feb. 11) Acrobatics and Tumbling Basketball Wrestling SUNDAY (Feb. 12)