Abstracts Fall 2020

Fall 2020, Vol. 23, No. 1

Rural Health Disparities: Connecting Research and Practice

Brianna Routh, Montana State University, Janie Burney, University of Tennessee, Kimberly Greder, Iowa State University, Mary Jo Katras, University of Minnesota Extension, Kristen Johnson, University of Tennessee


Health disparities are prevalent in rural communities across the United States due to compositional factors (socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, health behaviors) and contextual factors (access to resources). We identify health behaviors and outcome implications for rural families across the multistate USDA Hatch Act–funded projects Rural Family Speak/Rural Families Speak about Health (RFS/RFSH). Project findings cover the cyclical nature of depressive symptoms, factors influencing household nutrition and physical activity behaviors, importance of social supports, and use of health information. We also identify principles for action within the Extension land-grant mission including (1) delivery through mobile formats, (2) incorporating multiple family members, and (3) building on Policy, Systems, and Environment (PSE) approaches both within Extension program areas and across systems levels in the community. Rural health efforts need further adaptation and implementation across diverse communities. Extension can achieve this though professional development and evaluation efforts. FULL TEXT

Development of Food Security Messages with Rural, Low-Income Mothers

Yoshie Sano, Washington State University Vancouver, Kimberly Greder, Iowa State University, Sheila Mammen, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Based on a participatory, learner-based approach, this study examined feedback to various Food Security Messages (FSMs) from 118 rural, low-income mothers across 10 states. We conducted individual interviews with 75 mothers as well as nine focus groups in eight states with a total of 43 mothers to create, test, and refine FSMs. Qualitative analysis revealed that rural, low-income mothers preferred messages that (1) were short and to the point but included relevant details; (2) contained voices of peers and/or professionals who were trusted by low-income mothers; (3) were relatable to their own life, particularly to their rural challenges; and (4) recommended various strategies to cope with food insecurity. Findings from this study suggest that carefully tailored messages related to food insecurity are applicable to Extension and other organizations that aim to reduce food insecurity among low-income families. FULL TEXT

SNAP Policy and the Realities of Rural Working Families: Implications for Practitioners

Carolyn Bird, North Carolina State University, Kelly D. Chandler, Oregon State University, Ann A. Berry, University of Tennessee, Brenda C. Barrett-Rivera, Oregon State University

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s major food safety net that
helps millions of Americans combat poverty and food insecurity, is critical for the health and
well-being of rural low-income families.  Federal policies that guide family work supports are
most effective when informed by the daily realities and experiences of low-income families.
This study analyzes changes to SNAP that were proposed, but not adopted, in the Farm Bill of
2018 to illuminate unintended consequences and hardships that would result if the policy
provisions were adopted.  Family-level impact is highlighted through giving voice to mothers
who participated in the Rural Families Speaks research project as they convey the unique
realities of rural, low-income families; thereby promoting increased understanding of rural low
income families’ experiences and support needs.   To foster an increase in the number and
diversity of work supports for rural, low-income families we describe existing replicable
effective Extension programs that are targeted to improve family quality of life while
aligning with Extension’s mission and leveraging its presence in rural communities. FULL TEXT

Engaging with Rural Latinx Families

Kimberly Greder, Iowa State University, Doris I. Cancel-Tirado, Western Oregon University, Brianna Routh, Montana State University, Juan Bao, Iowa State University


For a growing number of rural communities, Latinxs – a gender-neutral term for individuals originating from Latin America, have positively affected community prosperity and economic security. In order to sustain and further promote rural economic growth, Extension should take bold actions to embrace the strengths and to address the needs and desires of this diverse population group. This paper highlights findings from 14 studies related to the USDA Hatch Act–funded multistate research projects, Rural Families Speak and Rural Families Speak about Health, and shares recommendations for strengthening Extension’s engagement with Latinx populations across rural America. FULL TEXT

How Does Research Inform Work with Multigenerational and Skipped-Generation Households in Rural Areas?
Loriena A. Yancura, The University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Jessie L. Piper, Kansas State University, Heather S. Wallace, The University of Tennessee, Ann A. Berry, The University of Tennessee

Many low-income families living in rural areas reside in multigenerational (children, their parents, and their grandparents) or skipped-generation (grandparents, grandchildren) households. Despite this, most family research in rural areas focuses on nuclear families.  Ecological models of development suggest that grandparent involvement in low-income rural families manifests differently in low-income rural families than in those who have greater resources and/or live in urban areas. This study analyzes information on grandparent involvement in low-income rural families obtained from a body of research from the Rural Families Speak (RFS) and Rural Families Speak about Health (RFSH) studies. Three themes were identified through this review: routines and roles, educational methods/approaches, and resource awareness and use. These results are discussed in light of their value for informing research-based programming for community and Extension professionals who work with vulnerable families in rural areas. FULL TEXT