Remembering Rural Communities

Meet Dave Procter, director, Center for Engagement and Community Development at Kansas State University

The Food Trust's 25th anniversary spotlight, picture of Dave Procter, director of the CECD at Kansas State University

25 YEARS, 25 STORIES

To be surrounded by farmland as far as the eye can see, but be unable to feed yourself or your family good, nutritious foods -- that is the paradox of rural food access in America.

In 2006, Dave Procter, director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development (CECD) at Kansas State University, spent a year traveling though the state asking community leaders about the challenges their rural towns faced. He heard the same answer over and over: Communities were struggling to keep their grocery stores open.

In response, the CECD launched the Rural Grocery Initiative to provide technical assistance to retailers. “These stores were critical for community development,” says Dave, “but they were also critical for providing citizens with healthy food.”

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, The Food Trust was tackling the same issues in both rural and urban communities through the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a public-private partnership that provided financing for grocery stores and other fresh food retailers to open in communities that lacked access to healthy foods.

As The Food Trust expanded its efforts to nearly all 50 states, it was only natural that the two organizations would become partners, says Dave.  “One of the biggest lessons we've learned is that there's no way we can go this alone."

Today, the two organizations are among a diverse group collaborating on the Center for Healthy Food Access, a nationwide effort launched by The Food Trust to increase access to and demand for healthy foods in underserved communities. Just last month, the Kansas Health Foundation announced over $4 million in funding for the soon-to-launch Kansas Healthy Food Initiative. “The more collaborations and partnerships that we have,” Dave says, “the better off we'll be and the better off food retail operations will be in Kansas.”

See where The Food Trust works throughout the nation to improve access to healthy, affordable food.

25th anniversary logo color

This interview is part of our weekly "25 Years, 25 Stories" series, spotlighting some of The Food Trust's diverse voices in healthy food access. If you would like to support our work, click here to make a tax-deductible donation today.

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