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K-State Today

May 9, 2014

K-State receives USDA research grant to advance rural grocery initative

Submitted by David E. Procter

Kansas State University has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the economic and nutritional challenges faced by rural communities. The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, just announced more than $12 million in grants to support research, education and extension activities aimed at increasing prosperity and economic security for farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and consumers across the nation.

The grant awarded to K-State is directed by David Procter, director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development. K-State co-project directors include Hikaru Peterson, agricultural economics; Sandra Procter, human nutrition extension; Dan Kahl, community development extension; and Kathryn Draeger, University of Minnesota extension. Industry partners include Affiliated Foods Midwest and NuVal LLC.

NIFA made the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative's — AFRI — Foundational Program, which promotes economically-, socially- and environmentally-sustainable and resilient rural communities. Rural communities often struggle to sustain core economic, nutritional, and civic needs. A central piece of the infrastructure sustaining rural regions is the small-town, independently-owned grocery store. Researchers at Kansas State University will partner with Affiliated Foods Midwest to identify rural grocery case study stores and will introduce a nutritional quality index system – NuVal – into those stores coupled with an Extension nutrition education program. The research examines the effects these interventions have on healthful food purchases and grocery food sales of rural residents. The Extension component will design and deliver education modules specifically identifying healthy food choices in small food retail outlets. Results will inform both grocery store business strategies and consumers as they consider making healthful food choices.

"We are pleased to receive USDA's continued support for our Rural Grocery Initiative," Procter said. "It is a testament to the importance of this issue for rural America and to the value of engaged research conducted at Kansas State University."