OKEECHOBEE — On Sept. 1, No Kid Hungry Florida announced $200,000 in funding to address child hunger in rural communities and the launch of No Kid Hungry Florida’s first-ever Rural Learning Cohort.
Two school districts and two community-based organizations will participate in the year-long cohort, designed to support peer-to-peer collaboration and innovation around the unique challenges and opportunities associated with feeding kids in rural communities. No Kid Hungry Florida rewarded a $50,000 grant to each participant to expand and improve their child nutrition programs.
“Child hunger exists in every Florida community; however, the needs of each community are often different. Over the last couple of years, we have seen the true challenges that exist in rural communities, making it much more difficult for families to access the resources that are there,” said Joshua Proffit, program manager of No Kid Hungry Florida. “The Rural Learning Cohort is an opportunity to uplift the innovative practices we are seeing across these communities and share them so that we can help feed more children.”
The following school districts and organizations were selected to participate in this year’s No Kid Hungry Rural Learning Cohort: Martin County, Santa Rosa County, Our Village Okeechobee, Inc., and United Way Emerald Coast, Inc.
Even prior to the pandemic, access to dependable, healthy foods was a problem in many rural parts of the country: 84% of U.S. counties, according to the USDA.
“Rural communities face a variety of challenges including transportation, distance, and accessing resources. Despite these barriers, rural communities have shown remarkable resilience and innovation in their programs,” said Sky Beard, director of No Kid Hungry Florida. “I am proud of our team for putting together this cohort and I am excited to see the positive impact it makes on these communities.”