2021 Rural Child Hunger Summit

No Kid Hungry's third annual Rural Child Hunger Summit was a virtual event, held over Zoom for two days on March 23-24, 2021. The goals of the 2021 Rural Child Hunger Summit were to highlight the disparities driving child hunger in rural communities, identify promising practices and policy levers that amplify the impact of existing nutrition assistance programs and/or reduce the incidence of rural child hunger, and celebrate innovations that are community-based, user-centered and evidence-informed


DAY ONE - March 23, 2021


Future Perspectives for USDA and Child Nutrition

The third annual Rural Child Hunger Summit will get started with a keynote address by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who was recently confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture for the Biden Administration, a role he previously held in the Obama Administration. In this address, we’ll learn more about the Biden administration’s priorities for USDA and Child Nutrition Programs.

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Is Food a Gift or a Commodity? Why it Matters for Policy and Practice

Many of us have experienced food as a gift and expression of love, perhaps at the family table during holidays or among friends. However, if we look just beyond our own tables, we can begin to grasp complex underlying relationships connecting us to our food – land, water, living things, and each other – as well as the social dynamics at play which determine who has a seat at policy tables where decisions affecting food systems and our social safety net are made. Join us for a brief discussion on reframing our basic understanding of food and attendant implications for child nutrition and public policy.

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Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Where Do We Go from Here?

Over the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, many came to recognize the vital role that School Meals, SNAP and Pandemic-EBT played in alleviating food insecurity. At the same time, opportunities exist to improve these programs and address inequities in access, especially among communities of color and isolated rural areas. This session will feature USDA leadership, state agency and community provider perspectives on what worked, what didn’t, and how we can do better moving forward.

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A Pinch of This: Flexible Approaches to Feeding Your Family

This video is brought to you by Cornell Cooperative Extension Warren County, in partnership with Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters campaign.

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Community Outreach Promotoras

It is important to build trust in the community in order to be able to effectively share resources and motivate the community to access programs and services. Hunger Free Colorado is committed to empowering the community by providing the tools necessary to successfully implement outreach for Child Nutrition programs in a participant-centered way. This session will feature a presentation about a statewide promotora outreach campaign in the summer of 2020 to promote Pandemic-P-EBT and other Child Nutrition programs to immigrant families, utilizing promotoras and other trusted community leaders. A panel of some of these leaders will speak to the success of their work. Participants will learn how to empower their partners and community to help promote Child Nutrition programs and will learn about effective strategies and toolkits that will help increase the comfort families have in participating in these programs.

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Spotlight on the Promises and Pitfalls of SNAP Online Grocery Shoping in Rural Communities

Many states have chosen to offer online purchasing to SNAP participants in the past year as the pandemic has put an even greater spotlight on food access. Dr. Alison Gustafson from the University of Kentucky will discuss the current landscape of SNAP online ordering in rural communities. This session will focus on what has been learned so far from SNAP online ordering, barriers to SNAP online purchasing, and opportunities to improve access and purchasing options in rural areas.

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Planning, Partnership, and Policy: National and Local Perspectives for Expanding Summer and Aferschool Meals in Rural Communities

The Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs play a critical role in filling the nutrition gap that exists during the summer and afterschool for millions of children in rural communities. This session will highlight various strategies for rural expansion gleaned from three national organizations and network partners, with a look at pre-pandemic participation along with current opportunities.

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Making Recipes Work for You and Your Family

This video is brought to you by the Cooking Matters campaign by Share Our Strength

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DAY TWO - March 24th 


Inequity in Food Systems: The Impacts of Whiteness and COVID-19 on Food Insecurity

In order to understand food insecurity, we must understand the impact of the social policies and practices that both create and combat the inequities we seek to address. This session will unpack the historic inequity on which the food system in the United States was built and provide an overview of how whiteness continues to dominate food systems policy and practice today. Those issues have become even more clear over the last year, as COVID-19 exacerbated the historic and systemic inequity inherent in our food system. As such, we will explore two federal programs, WIC and SNAP, the impact of COVID-19 on navigating those programs, and provide recommendations for policy, practice, and organizational changes that have the potential to impact rural child hunger.

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Fresh Ideas for Sustainable Programming in Rural Communities

Innovation rarely goes according to plan, and sometimes you can learn more from a surprising outcome than one that’s expected. In this session, attendees will hear from panelists working in South Dakota, Colorado, and Virginia who have taken a practical approach to innovation that pairs fresh ideas and community inclusivity with the dollars-and-sense realities of keeping programming afloat.

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Healthy Tips to Hack Your Snack

This video is brought to you by the Cooking Matters campaign by Share Our Strength.

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Emerging Strategies in Food Access in Health Care Settings

Grantees from the No Kid Hungry Rural Clinical and Community Food Access Innovations Cohort will discuss community-centered approaches to increase access to healthy food through produce Rx and voucher programs in partnership with referring local health providers. These pilot projects in Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, and Oregon will serve families with children experiencing food insecurity.

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Spotlight on Emergency Meals-to-You: Reimaging Summer Meals in Rural Areas

Emergency Meals-to-You (eMTY) shipped shelf-stable breakfasts and lunches to National School Lunch Program eligible students in rural America during the pandemic. The program served over 38 million meals to 270,000 children. This panel will highlight how eMTY expanded access to school meals in rural areas. Session participants will learn about the program, lessons learned from shipping food to families, and how the concept of mailed food could inform future practice.

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Collaborative Planning and Community Engagement Strategies to Address Rural Child Hunger

While rural families can struggle from a range of resource and infrastructure challenges, they also have a unique strength – strong community ties. Combatting rural hunger requires trust and a whole community approach to develop holistic solutions that suit individual community needs. Join this session to hear how community organizers in South Carolina, southern Appalachia, and California’s Central Valley are working alongside community members to leverage community assets and build public will to end hunger.

View session materials and recording here