Public agencies, nonprofits and community organizations are placing greater emphasis on sustainable food sources as a means to support local agricultural businesses while increasing access to fresh produce.
Kentucky recently received a $3.6 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support a pilot project designed to connect rural families with children to substantial food benefits. The goal of the pilot program is to combat poverty and food insecurity among children and families in underserved regions of the state.
Families in rural communities must spend time and money traveling to and from grocery stores. Kentucky will provide struggling households with transportation deductions in an effort to increase the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefits they are able to take advantage of. This is the first hunger-fighting initiative that addresses transportation challenges as a means to improve access to foods.
Schools in Virginia have also received federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure children receive healthy food options when they are not in school. The $8.8 million federal grant will be used to provide children with a third meal before leaving school each day as well as during off-hours.
The goal is to ensure all students in qualifying districts have access to free or reduced price breakfast and lunch, as well as food options once the school day has finished. Public data indicates an estimated 300,000 children in Virginia are going hungry, and the federal grant will help close this gap while improving academic performance.
The grants awarded to Kentucky and Virginia are part of the $27 million funding initiative the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched during National Nutrition Month. The USDA is funding innovative projects across the country focused on reducing food insecurity and ending childhood hunger, with particular attention paid to rural communities.
In the United States, approximately 15.8 million children have to worry about access to food – most of which live in rural communities. The winning projects will test new strategies to fight childhood hunger through alternative models for service delivery and benefit levels. The projects will be evaluated to measure impact and extract best practices so successful tactics can be deployed across the country.
The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund and CSX have launched the Healthy Food Transportation Grant Program to improve access to food in underserved communities through improvements to transportation and distribution of food. The grant program has awarded $10,000 to 10 charitable organizations across the country working to connect struggling households to healthy, fresh foods.
According to The Conservation Fund, 23 million Americans have limited or no access to fresh produce, dairy, meats and seafood. This is due to food distribution organizations struggling to acquire fresh foods, while food producers face challenges retaining quality and safety of food. The solution is to enhance delivery capabilities to close the gaps in local food distribution. Boosting transportation will support both American families and local farmers and working farms.