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K-State Today

November 8, 2012

Procter presents Rural Grocery Initiative research at international conference

Submitted by David Procter

David Procter, director of K-State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development, presented his research “Improving Rural Food Access through Regional Development” at the 10th PASCAL International Observatory Conference in Brest, France, Oct. 29-31.

PASCAL International Observatory is a global community development organization that aims to connect communities of policy makers, practitioners and researchers through an innovative approach to the sharing and exchange of cutting-edge best practice research, ideas and policies. The conference in Brest was hosted by Western Brittany University and focused on the role of higher education in local and regional social and economic development.

Procter’s research focused on rural America’s struggle to access affordable nutritious food.  Two and a half million Americans live in rural food deserts – geographic areas of significant poverty where access to affordable, nutritious food is limited. Individuals who live in food deserts may be more likely to suffer from high rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Looking forward, rural food deserts in America are unfortunately expected to increase in number as rural populations continue to decline and the food industry shifts food distribution channels to larger superstores in more populous communities.

Procter’s presentation highlighted Kansas State University’s Rural Grocery Initiative as a case study of how higher education can productively engage with rural communities to address the significant public issues they face. The Rural Grocery Initiative is a campus community partnership focused on understanding the challenges faced by rural grocers, developing rural grocery best practices, identifying sustainable models of rural grocery operation and creating both a virtual and face-to-face network for rural grocers and stakeholders.