When Emmy Award-winning director Jesse Vaughan was approached about producing a film on food insecurity in Virginia, the problem hit home for him.

His mom lives on Richmond’s North Side in the house he grew up in. “And when I was approached for consideration on doing this as a documentary, I was talking to her about it and I realized she lives in a food desert,” Vaughan recalled Sunday.

“So I took it very personally and said, ‘You know what? I need to pour my heart and soul into this issue and make people aware that it’s a very serious problem.’ ”

Emmy winning director/producer Jesse Vaughan (with sound boom) works with Cedric Lewis, senior videographer at Virginia State University (VSU) Today on a segment on food deserts, defined as urban areas beyond the reach of traditional fresh grocery markets. He was filming John R.F. Lewis, Director of Renew Richmond at a Hands on Richmond garden off of Midlothian Turnpike in August 2014.

“Living in a Food Desert,” a documentary produced by Vaughan and Cedric Owens for Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture, had just premiered at the Richmond International Film Festival. After the screening, a panel that included Dorothy McAuliffe, Virginia’s first lady, weighed in.

“There needs to be a forceful call to action,” she told a Byrd Theatre audience that included her husband, Gov. Terry McAuliffe. She had noted on screen that more than 300,000 Virginia children are food insecure. Her advocacy on the issue “comes from being a parent. And to imagine that a parent can’t feed their child nutritious, wholesome food, it’s just heart-wrenching.”

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