West Central Alabama AHEC
In 2015, the Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center (RCPNC) at the University of Kentucky announced the availability of funding for projects that use creative strategies to increase coordination among United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Child Nutrition programs and other nutrition assistance programs. The overall goal of the project is to improve program coordination among various nutrition assistance programs, primarily SNAP and WIC, which is expected to result in improved rates of program participation. The West Central Alabama AHEC was selected to provide coordination of services for the USDA FNS child nutrition program in Sumter County, Alabama.
Alabama is currently ranked 15th in the nation for participation in UDSA FNS programs. (Census data, 2010). With a population of about 4 million, approximately ¼ of all Alabamians, 419,552 households, participated in the Alabama SNAP program monthly. When looking specifically at child nutrition approximately 26% of Alabama children live in poverty (Kids Count, 2015). Interestingly, census data shows that overall 85% of individuals who meet FNS eligibility requirements for child nutrition benefits in Alabama are currently utilizing the service and programs provided (Kids Count, 2015; Census data, 2010). There are three major barriers that hinder participation in the USDA Food Nutrition Service (FNS) program in Sumter County, Alabama: 1) Lack of information, 2) Lack of community resources, and 3) Lack of transportation.
The agencies that administer the SNAP Program (the Department of Human Resources) and WIC (Alabama Department of Public Health) listed a variety of reasons why individuals who are eligible for the programs do not apply. Some of the reasons noted include a lack of knowledge or misinformation about eligibility rules, low literacy, distrust of SNAP and WIC offices or government programs in general, long and confusing applications, the amount of documentation or verification required, waiting times at local SNAP and WIC offices, limited office hours, and difficulty getting transportation to local SNAP and WIC offices. These barriers prevent access to SNAP and WIC in Alabama (Alabama DHR, 2015).
The West Central Alabama AHEC will partner with the Sumter County Health Coalition to:
- Increase the number of families who participate in WIC through community educationefforts.
- Increase student participation in the Sumter County school breakfast and lunch programsby implementing activities to increase meal participation (i.e., new item sampling).
- Increase participation in Sumter County Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) byestablishing new SFSP sites.
Targeted Nutrition Assistance Program: SNAP, WIC, SBP, NSLP, SFSP