The opioid crisis is a nationwide problem. But it’s hit rural areas particularly hard.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is tapping several resources to help fight the epidemic. One of its agencies, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, recently announced $1.4 million in grants will be awarded to university programs across the country, with the goal of improving health care and quality of life in rural communities.
“Many individuals and families living in rural areas and communities experience disparities related to health, safety and well-being,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a release. “The opioid epidemic that is ravaging our rural communities has highlighted these challenges. Inadequate access to health and education resources is often the cause of these hardships. These projects will help promote and enhance rural health, prevent substance use disorders, strengthen economic vitality and, in the long term, mitigate the effects of rural poverty.”
Penn State’s PROSPER (Promoting School-university-community Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) program received $359,628 from the initiative. The university program, established in 2001, helps rural youth avoid long-term health and behavioral problems through practiced interventions. According to the release, the funding will help the program reach more communities throughout the state.
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The money comes through the USDA’s Rural Health and Safety Education competitive grants program. Grants were also awarded to the University of Georgia, Kansas State University and Montana State University.