How Rural Communities Overcame Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic

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No Kid Hungry partnered with Save the Children to conduct four, 1.5 hour long focus groups with sixteen No Kid Hungry grantees that self-identified as serving exclusively rural communities. Grantees represented both school districts and community based organizations. The research included in this report was made possible through funding by the Walmart Foundation. The findings, conclusions and recommendations presented in this report are those of the grantee alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Walmart Foundation. ​


Key Takeaways​

Grantees overcame many challenges ranging from food shortages, to staffing burnout, language barriers, and limited transportation access. Through their creative problem solving, three trends emerged.​

  1. Partnerships are key. Partners provided resources, expanded capacity, and spread the word to make meal providers as successful as possible. Most grantees interviewed planned to deepen existing partnerships, especially with their volunteers. ​

  2. The need is great. Grantees saw the need for meals grow during the COVID-19 pandemic and expect it to continue as the effects of the pandemic are felt for years to come. Continuation and expansion of summer meals programs are a high priority for rural communities. ​

  3. Flexibility is necessary. All grantees expressed they would like at least some of the waivers to stay in place, especially the area eligibility waiver, in order to break down the barriers that lead to food insecurity.