Improving Partnerships in Rural Communities: Organizing Approaches for Improved Effectiveness and Reach of Rural Nutrition Programs

Online Article | June 28, 2021 | Daniel W. Kahl, Joann Lianekhammy, Diane Woloshin, and Rebecca Harnik

Source: Local Development & Society

The Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center (RCPNC) was established in 2015 at the University of Kentucky in partnership with the Southern Rural Development Center and Altarum, with the goal of reducing child food insecurity by working to improve coordination among child nutrition programs, strengthening program delivery and increasing program participation. With support and funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, RCPNC issued grants to 17 organizations across 11 states working in persistently poor, rural counties to address child food insecurity locally from March 2016 to March 2019. 

Grant awardees completed community needs assessments in their target counties to identify existing barriers to program participation, and developed creative strategies to improve access to nutrition assistance for families and children based on the needs of the community. The awardees worked with community coalitions through the grant period to implement these strategies.

Altarum was contracted to conduct a qualitative evaluation throughout the grant period. The evaluation focused on understanding the projects’ challenges, perceived successes, lessons learned and dynamics that affect federal food program coordination and participation. The documentation of experiences of the RCPNC-funded programs can help other communities across the country reduce child food insecurity. These include challenges and successes in outreach and participant engagement and lessons learned in improving cross-program coordination among child nutrition and other food assistance programs. The evaluation captured project initiation, sub-grantee strategies, project outcomes, plans for sustainability and sub-grantee feedback and recommendations.