Children prepare a garden salad together with ingredients provided by a Save the Children meal kit.

Kloee, 11, left, and her younger sister Aubree, 9, prepare a garden salad together with ingredients provided by a Save the Children meal kit in West Virginia. Save the Children partners with communities to close the hunger gap and ensure all children across rural America have access to nourishing food. Photo by Amberlee Christy for Save the Children.

Rural Child Hunger Summit: Secretaries Vilsack, Cardona join No Kid Hungry, Save the Children as keynote speakers to kick off 2022 Summit

Vilsack calls for ‘an economy that supports the value that rural America provides to the rest of the country;’ Cardona: ‘We need to be unapologetic about saying we need to do better for rural communities.’

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 27, 2022) – Today, school staff, researchers, policymakers, and community members from across the nation will gather virtually as the fourth annual Rural Child Hunger Summit commences. To kick off the summit, co-presented by No Kid Hungry and Save the Children, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined a panel moderated by CNN host and political commentator S.E. Cupp to discuss how their departments work together to uplift rural communities and serve rural children.

“The pandemic took a lot from us but it doesn’t mean we can’t come back stronger,” Secretary Cardona said. He called for intentional collaboration between agencies and community partners and encouraged schools in rural communities to use funds from the American Rescue Plan to “prioritize putting an end to childhood hunger in our schools.” Cardona also announced a new email address for specific questions from schools in rural areas: rural@ed.gov.

Speaking of the challenges that have been created in rural communities as a result of the pandemic, Secretary Vilsack called the job of school nutrition professionals and community meals providers “nothing short of remarkable.” He spoke about hunger’s connection to national security, saying “It’s in our collective best interest to make sure we eliminate childhood hunger in order to create a more secure nation that allows us to have a stronger democracy, and provide leadership around the world.”

For the next two days, attendees will join a number of sessions focused on unpacking the latest research, promising policy solutions, and the role of schools, community-based organizations and local leaders as partners in the fight to end hunger in rural communities. These sessions will explore themes like permanent solutions to expand food access, roles technology can play to connect rural communities to food assistance, equity in child nutrition in rural communities and more.

“Kids and families in rural communities face a particular set of challenges, like geographic isolation and limited employment opportunities. The nearest grocery store or summer meals site may be miles away, making it hard to get kids the food they need, especially as they deal with the continued fallout of the pandemic,” said Chuck Scofield, Executive Vice President of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. “This summit helps us develop valuable insights from bringing together leaders in rural communities to share how they’re feeding kids now and also how they’re tackling the root causes of hunger in their communities.” 

“Education is the ladder out of poverty, but children can’t be hungry for knowledge if they are hungry for food. Because of this, Save the Children is working hard with partners like No Kid Hungry to ensure that children across rural America have access to nourishing food – the fuel they need to learn and thrive,” said Betsy Zorio, Vice President of Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. “Save the Children is honored to co-host the 2022 Rural Child Hunger Summit, to foster important discussions on best practices, innovative ideas and policy solutions that will help end rural child hunger.”

Materials and recordings from this year’s summit will be made available on No Kid Hungry’s Center for Best Practices web page.

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About No Kid Hungry

No child should go hungry in America. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, 1 in 6 kids could face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry is working to end childhood hunger by helping launch and improve programs that give all kids the healthy food they need to thrive. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization committed to ending hunger and poverty.

About Save the Children

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

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