Tuesday, March 29, 2016

USDA announces $1.4 million in grants available for rural areas to fight heroin and opioid addiction

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made $1.4 million in grants available to rural communities to fight heroin and painkiller abuse, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday during a drug abuse summit in Atlanta, states a press release. Vilsack also will hold town hall meetings in rural areas hit particularly hard by drug abuse—New Hampshire, Missouri, Nevada, Mississippi and Appalachia—to "bring together local and state government partners, the health community and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the issue and discuss possible solutions."

Vilsack said in a statement: “The opioid epidemic is a fast-growing problem all across America, and we know that rural communities are facing an even higher burden than those in urban areas. We’ve identified ways to use existing resources to help rural towns and organizations address this challenge head-on and potentially save lives, and I look forward to meeting with community leaders to better understand how we can further support their efforts to create healthier, safer futures for families and individuals who may be struggling.”

The $1.4 million is made available through USDA's Rural Health and Safety Education competitive grants program, states the release. "Administered through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the program’s goal is to enhance the quality of life in rural areas through improved health and safety education efforts, including expanding the focus to address the critical challenges of substance abuse in rural communities across the nation. For the first time, USDA is encouraging applicants to develop projects that specifically work to educate the public about opioid abuse and overdose. USDA will also consider projects that target other health outcomes." The application deadline is June 1.

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