New grant provides support to improve the health of rural Kentucky county

Nursing faculty member to lead the effort
New grant provides support to improve the health of rural Kentucky county

Frances Hardin-Fanning, PhD, RN

A new initiative led by a University of Louisville nursing faculty member to address food insecurity and healthy eating in Perry County, Ky., has received $100,000 in grant funding.

Selected as part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, the Aetna Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, will support communities that are changing the way they work together across sectors to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes.

Frances Hardin-Fanning, PhD, RN, professor and UofL’s Shirley B. Powers Endowed Chair in Nursing Research, will serve as director of the challenge project. She also is a member of Perry County’s Food & Faith Coalition comprised of more than 40 faith leaders, educators, health care providers, researchers, social workers, government officials and food resource providers.

The coalition’s two-year project aims to reduce food insecurity, defined as not having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. The effort also intends to increase access to plant-based foods.

The goals of the project are to: 

  • conduct root cause analyses of food insecurity issues
  • increase food security screening
  • implement strategies to increase donations of healthy foods
  • coordinate existing food security services 

In 2017, nearly 18 percent of Perry County households were food insecure and 19 percent of these households were income-ineligible for nutrition assistance. Fifteen percent of Perry County adults have type 2 diabetes and 44 percent have hypertension. The county also has a disproportionately high rate of heart disease mortality (353 per 100,000 population). Hardin-Fanning says the new challenge initiative aims to improve these outcomes.

Other partners on the grant include:

  • Perry County Food & Faith Sector Leaders
  • North Fork Local Foods
  • Perry County Judge Executive/Fiscal Court
  • Hazard Community and Technical College
  • Perry County Ministerial Association
  • Hazard/Perry County Chamber of Commerce
  • Kentucky Nurses Association