COLUMBIA, Missouri, October 12, 2022 – Missouri State Director for Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Kyle Wilkens, today announced that the Department is awarding more than $1.2 million in health care grants rural emergency service to help residents of underserved communities in rural Missouri. “Access to healthy food and health care is essential to the health and well-being of our citizens,” said Wilkens, “USDA Rural Development is here to strengthen rural communities.”
As part of today’s announcement:
- Bootheel Cultural and Performing Arts Center receives a $54,600 grant under the nutrition assistance portion of the ERHCG for the purchase of a cold room, forklift, enclosed trailer and elevator at battery-powered paddles for the Bootheel Cultural and Performing Arts Center. These items will help the entity meet the increased needs of its food bank operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cold room will help them store large quantities of perishable food for distribution in their communities. Moreover, the forklift, battery powered pallet lifter and enclosed trailer will be extremely beneficial in loading, unloading and transporting pallets of food products in their local service area. This region of the state struggling with high unemployment rates is considered a food desert and is in a county with persistent poverty. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already critical situation. Being able to expand their capacity to store large amounts of dry goods and cold foods is really a matter of food on the table for many families in this area of southeastern Missouri.
- Carter County Health Center receives a $231,477 grant to assist the Carter County Health Center with funds to hire a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) dedicated to testing and immunization, which will double the health centers’ immunization capacity. The nurse will also travel throughout the county to perform tests and vaccinations at community centers, schools, senior centers and churches, ensuring that the opportunity is provided to every citizen in as many rural areas as possible. This investment will also be used to purchase additional medical supplies, vaccines and tests to ensure they have sufficient resources now and in the future. The center will also purchase an ultra-cold storage unit for special vaccines that need to be stored at very low temperatures. Further steps to ensure all citizens of Carter County can receive these vital services, the health center will update internet services and website, allowing them to increase reach, support upgrades of the county’s underlying healthcare information system, enabling county-wide communications going forward.
- Ozarks Medical Center receives a $1,000,000 grant to help build a 10,000 square foot clinic in Mountain View, Missouri. Currently, they provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at its main location in West Plains, Missouri. It’s at least a 30 minute drive to the rural community. With little or no public transport, the rural community throughout the service area cannot receive both tests and vaccinations. This proposed project is essential to ensure that the rural community has access to this much needed service.
Background: Rural Emergency Health Care Subsidies
Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021 to provide immediate economic relief to those affected by the pandemic. A few months after the law was passed, the USDA responded quickly by making this funding available to ensure the long-term availability of rural health care services. In August 2021, the USDA made available the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants through the American Rescue Plan Act to help rural health care facilities, tribes, and communities expanding access to health care services and nutritional assistance.
The aid helps provide immediate relief to support rural hospitals, healthcare clinics and local communities. The USDA administers the funds through the Rural Development Community Facilities Program.
The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.