By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Photo of children eatingThe U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday announced that 17 rural communities will receive a combined $1.3 million to improve access to federal nutrition assistance for children and families.

The grants are funded by the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center at the University of Kentucky.

More children living in rural areas are considered poor than those living in urban areas, according to the USDA. Nearly 85 percent of counties with persistent poverty are in rural areas.

Among the newly funded projects, Fulton County Schools in Kentucky plans to create a system to deliver meals to high-need areas. It would be part of the summer meal program funded by the USDA to provide meals to students in low-income areas while school is not in session.

“Children living in persistently poor rural areas tend to experience worse outcomes in terms of nutrition, activity and obesity,” USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “These grants will make it possible for children in these areas to access much-needed nutrition assistance and help close the large food insecurity gap between urban and rural communities.”

Crisp County Community Council in Georgia, Summit School District in South Dakota and the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University are also among the grant recipients.