Despite a decline in Colorado’s overall child poverty rate in 2013, the rural child poverty rate remains high and has grown in recent years, according to an article by the Colorado Springs Gazette.
The article analyzed results from the “KIDS COUNT in Colorado!” report, which was released by the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Statewide, 17 percent of children lived in poverty in 2013, a one-percentage point decrease from 2012 and the first decline in 5 years. In rural areas, however, 23 percent of the children lived in poverty, a 3-percentage point increase since 2007. The report also found that rural parts of the state struggle more with maternal and infant health.
“The economic recovery hasn’t necessarily hit our rural communities, and we certainly hear that when we go talk to folks,” Chris Watney, the executive director of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, told the Gazette.
A 2014 report found that nationwide rural schools were serving an increasing number of low-income children. During the 2010-11 school year, nearly half of rural students were eligible for free-or-reduced-price school lunches due to their household incomes. Recent research show that children in rural areas are more likely than non-rural children to suffer from poverty-related deficiencies, like food insecurity, and are more likely than their urban peers to experience a range of health issues like obesity and asthma. They are also more dependent on public health insurance and more likely to rely on food stamps than their urban peers.
Earlier this month, in an attempt to combat some of those issues, the USDA and the University of Kentucky launched the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center, which will focus on the disparities that exist between urban and rural children and specifically target poverty and food access. The center will aim to reduce food insecurity in the nation’s most rural states by providing grants to organizations in high-poverty rural areas and studying and employing solutions to close the food insecurity gap.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.