COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The phrase “food insecurity” may be lost on a lot of people.

The phrase does not mean needy, hungry, less fortunate or poor. Instead, think about people who suddenly have to decide whether to pay for food — or new medications, fuel for their car, or rent. The saying goes, “Life happens,” and often when life takes a turn people did not expect, it usually has dollar signs attached.

From rising inflation to businesses closing, car accidents or an expensive medical diagnosis, often people who were making ends meet suddenly get pushed into hard decisions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said food insecurity is a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food insecurity affects one in six households. In Ohio, that means there are about 1.5 million people who do not have access to a well-balanced diet.

Typically, these people experience poor mental or physical health, or both. They face unmet needs for chronic disease prevention like diabetes and hypertension because of a lack of access to healthy food. That is why OhioHealth partnered with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective and NBC4 to grow nearly 300,000 pounds of food on a two-acre farm behind the television station.

“Our support and commitment to the Mid-Ohio Farm at NBC4 aligns nicely with our shared commitment to addressing food insecurities and another social determinate of health,” said Shawna Davis, OhioHealth vice president of external affairs. “We have a food health program. When we identify a patient in need of food, we connect them with a local food pantry and ensure they have access to those fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, proteins.”

Davis said we all need a well-balanced diet, and that fact is more important for patients who have diseases such as diabetes and cancer to help fight their wellness battle.

OhioHealth reaches 46 of Ohio’s 88 counties. That’s why the group has a program to help patients keep healthy food in the kitchen and the hospital covers the cost.

“We identify those food insecurities for our patients. We pair them up and make sure they have that access to food,” Davis said.

OhioHealth’s partnership with the Mid-Ohio Farm at NBC4 is more about expanding its reach and defeating hunger.

“We are looking for other local food pantries that we can partner with to provide this access to care,” Davis said. “And not just in central Ohio, but throughout our footprint in Southeast Ohio, Mansfield, Marion, so we’re looking out we can expand our ‘Food is Health’ program and grow it throughout the state.”