Innovation Lab Aims to Spur Creative Solutions to End Child Hunger
Monday, September 19, 2022
A new initiative is providing funding to individuals and grassroots groups across the Commonwealth with creative solutions to reduce hunger among rural children.
The Rural Child Hunger Research and Innovation Lab launched today by Save the Children said it aims to help communities design and test out their ideas.
Alyssa Taylor, Kentucky state director for Save the Children, said recent natural disasters, including the floods in eastern Kentucky, have spurred crowdsourcing and voucher programs to keep families fed and supply businesses with customers amid recovery efforts.
"So we saw a local grocery store in Letcher County was completely destroyed," Taylor recounted. "The community rallied around them to help them get back on their feet."
Taylor hopes the resiliency of Kentuckians can be cultivated into scalable models to help ensure kids in the state always have their most basic needs met.
Tamara Sandberg, senior adviser for food security at Save the Children, said the 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 Kentucky kids are fed.
"The idea of the Rural Child hunger Research and Innovation Lab is to lift up ideas from within rural communities, provide them with the support to incubate their ideas, and then funding and technical assistance to try out their ideas," Sandberg outlined.
Taylor added the geographic isolation of many Kentucky counties poses logistical challenges in accessing fruits and vegetables other states may not face.
"In areas where it's already difficult to afford the rising cost of groceries, adding on those transportation costs to get them to these rural areas is really difficult," Taylor explained.
Research shows persistent food insecurity leads to poorer health, less exercise, and lower grades among rural adolescents.
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