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Rural Health Information Hub

Rural Project Examples: Food security and nutrition

Effective Examples

Rural Restaurant Healthy Options Program
Updated/reviewed September 2022
  • Need: Obesity is a widespread epidemic in the United States, especially in rural areas. Due to small profit margins and fear of losing customers, small owner-operated rural restaurants hesitate to make health-conscious changes to their menus.
  • Intervention: The Healthy Options Program offered an economical and low-maintenance program for owner-operated restaurants in Iowa to increase awareness of already existing healthy menu options and substitutions.
  • Results: Restaurants received positive feedback and experienced no financial loss. Customers noticed and appreciated the healthy option reminders, and ordering behavior improved.
Hidalgo Medical Services – Family Support Program
Updated/reviewed April 2022
  • Need: To reduce health disparities in two rural/frontier counties in southwest New Mexico.
  • Intervention: Community health workers worked with clients to help them better manage their health and promote awareness of healthy lifestyle options in the community.
  • Results: Better health outcomes for patients.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP)
Updated/reviewed August 2022
  • Need: An ongoing health need to alleviate early childhood obesity in the rural Kansas counties of Marshall and Nemaha.
  • Intervention: 5 distinct physical and nutritional programs were introduced to 9 preschool sites through the overarching Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP).
  • Results: HELP comprehensively increased children's physical activity and healthy food consumption and established a sustainable presence at each preschool site.
ALProHealth
Added March 2022
  • Need: To improve access to healthy food and physical activity in rural Alabama.
  • Intervention: Researchers hold focus groups with community members to identify issues of the most concern and then help them implement appropriate interventions like installing playground equipment.
  • Results: From 2014 to 2018, 14 coalitions implemented 101 interventions in 16 communities.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Youth4Health
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: To educate youth about obesity and healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Intervention: An educational program about healthy living was implemented in Lincoln and Claiborne Parishes in Louisiana for youth ages 9-18.
  • Results: Youth4Health program produced greater awareness and participation in healthier lifestyles by target youth and their families, as well as church congregations.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy From CATCH to C.H.E.F.
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • Need: To help children and families in Lincoln, rural Benton, and east Linn counties achieve higher-quality lives free of preventable diseases related to poor nutrition and obesity.
  • Intervention: Two programs were applied on a local level to provide physical activity, nutrition, and culinary education in a school and community setting.
  • Results: The physical activity rate surpassed the Department of Health and Human Services recommended rate by 5%, and schools started serving healthier options in their cafeterias.

Other Project Examples

Mother's Milk Bank of South Carolina
Updated/reviewed January 2023
  • Need: Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across the state of South Carolina were purchasing breast milk from out-of-state milk banks for preterm infants.
  • Intervention: The Mother's Milk Bank of South Carolina (MMBSC) opened 26 sites in South Carolina for breast milk to be donated, safely pasteurized, and delivered to NICUs across the state.
  • Results: Over 571,586 ounces of milk have been donated to MMBSC depot sites and over 402,523 ounces of milk have been delivered to South Carolina NICUs.
Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey Counties (HCC)
Added December 2022
  • Need: To increase access to healthy foods in two rural Nevada counties.
  • Intervention: HCC and the Rural Health and Nutrition Initiative (RHNI) run food pantries, community and school gardens, a farmers market, and a greenhouse.
  • Results: The three food pantries together serve about 3,600 people and distribute over 100,000 pounds of food each month.
Lakewood Engage Food Access Initiatives
Updated/reviewed August 2022
  • Need: Lakewood, Minnesota is classified as a food desert, where many rural families face food insecurity and low availability of both nutritious and affordable provisions.
  • Intervention: A collection of programs address food insecurity and the dietary health of members of the community, from children and families to older adults, supplying them with locally-sourced fruits, vegetables, and meat.
  • Results: Lakewood Engage conducts around 30,000 food insecurity screenings each year. Fresh produce, meat, and other goods are distributed to roughly 140 families (around 500 individuals), 200 seniors, and 70 school-aged children annually.
South Dakota Harvest of the Month Program
Updated/reviewed May 2022
  • Need: To encourage children to make healthy eating choices through learning and tasting.
  • Intervention: Brief, fun, and informative presentations and tastings for children on over 42 different fruits and vegetables.
  • Results: Participants are exposed to new foods and show more interest in healthy eating.