Group Develops Ways to Combat Rural Child Hunger
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Save the Children's Rural Child Hunger Research and Innovation Lab aims to help communities design and test new, creative ways to reduce rural child hunger.
According to a report called Map the Meal Gap from the nonprofit Feeding America, nine out of 10 counties with the highest food-insecurity rates are rural.
Tamara Sandberg, senior adviser for food security at Save the Children, said lessons learned during the pandemic increased flexibility for federally funded food programs across the country. She hopes the lab will allow communities to continue problem-solving to ensure more Arkansas kids do not go hungry.
"The idea of the Rural Child hunger Research and Innovation Lab is to lift up ideas from within rural communities," Sandberg explained. "Provide them with the support to incubate their ideas, and then funding and technical assistance to try out their ideas."
Sandberg added they are trying to keep momentum going to reduce the barriers children in rural communities have when they are trying to access the food they need to succeed.
More than 444,000 Arkansans are not always sure where their next meal is coming from, according to Feeding America, and more than 138,000 of them are children.
Audrey Freshwater, Arkansas state director for Save the Children, said it is estimated 20% of rural children experience food insecurity.
"And this is a projected increase higher than pre-pandemic levels," Freshwater pointed out. "Here in Arkansas, one in six households with children reported not having enough food in their homes this past year. "
Freshwater noted although they have great support from local food banks, there are barriers such as geographic isolation, lack of transportation and food deserts making it difficult for families to access reliable, affordable and nutritious food options.
She added they are combating food insecurity in rural Arkansas by providing meals to families in need. She stressed hungry children are more likely to have lower math scores, repeat a grade, come to school late, or miss school entirely.
"Since the start of the COVID pandemic, we've helped provide nearly 45 million meals to children and families," Freshwater recounted. "Here in Arkansas, Save the Children has helped distribute nearly 1.4 million meals to families who have needed it the most since the start of the pandemic."
The group partnered with a school district in Mountain View, in northern Arkansas, via the school's food pantry to provide food boxes, critical meals and snacks as well as learning resources to families such as books, learning tools and toys.
get more stories like this via email
Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-…
Americans continue to report low trust in mainstream media, with many younger than 30 saying they trust information from social media nearly as much …
A Minnesota House committee heard testimony Thursday about the governor's proposed spending plan for education. As these talks unfold, public polling …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors. They hope …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals and advocates in Connecticut have said it will take sweeping reforms to bolster the state's flailing public health system…
In her fifth State of the State address this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policies designed to put more money in Michiganders' pockets…
By nearly every measure, voter fraud in U.S. elections is rare, but that isn't stopping the Texas Legislature from considering dozens of bills this …
A Republican-sponsored bill in the Arkansas Legislature would make it illegal to circulate petitions at or near polling places during elections…