USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and University of Kentucky (UK) officials on March 19th to announce the establishment of the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center at UK. The center will use "cutting-edge solutions" in child nutrition to reduce child food insecurity in states with the highest number of persistently poor rural counties. Currently, about 85 percent of all persistently poor counties in the United States are in rural areas, with children among the most vulnerable groups living in these areas.
"The Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center underscores this administration's focus on addressing poverty and food insecurity among children in rural areas where hunger and obesity are too common," said Vilsack. "The center will make it possible for children in rural areas to access much-needed nutrition assistance and help close the large food insecurity gap between urban and rural communities."
"This program will target child hunger and poverty in persistently poor rural communities by partnering with agencies who have the resources and expertise to make a difference," added Beshear. "This program will do more than offer aid. It will attack the root causes of child hunger and poverty."
"In the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, part of our core mission as a land grant institution is to improve the lives of our citizens," said UK Dean Nancy Cox. "We are honored the USDA has chosen us to be their partner in this extremely important endeavor to reduce child food insecurity in persistently poor rural counties in Kentucky and several other states."
With USDA's investment of $2.5 million, the Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center will administer and evaluate a series of sub-grants targeted to as many as 30 rural areas with high poverty rates in up to 15 states. The communities will use the funds to better coordinate existing child nutrition programs and create solutions to target child food insecurity. UK will partner with Altarum Institute and the Southern Rural Development Center to develop the center.