Skip to Main Content
Watch Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Energy

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Alison Davis

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Alison Davis

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the establishment of the USDA’s Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center. He is joined on the program by Dr. Alison Davis, a professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
Season 10 Episode 20 Length 27:46 Premiere: 04/11/15

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Alison Davis

With 26 percent of Kentucky children living in poverty, the state would appear to be perfect home to the nation’s first center designed to fight child hunger.

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment will house the new Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center, thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and UK agricultural economist Alison Davis appeared on KET’s One to One to explains the mission and goals of the center.

The Impacts of Child Hunger
Before becoming agriculture secretary, Vilsack says he didn’t understand the extent of the poverty problem in rural America. He explains that 95 percent of counties with the highest child poverty rates and nutrition challenges are in rural areas. That geographic isolation can create unique challenges for the rural poor, such as a lack of local grocery options, greater distances to supermarkets, and fewer transportation options to reach those stores.

Vilsack explains that children who don’t get proper nutrition or are obese because of poor food opportunities are more likely have greater health care costs and educational challenges.

“The reality is that a lot of these kids come to school and they haven’t had breakfast and they don’t learn as well,” Vilsack explains. He says that a third to half of the calories children consume come from school meals, which leaves him worried about what impoverished students have available to eat at home at night, on the weekends, and during summer break.

Not Poor by Choice
The secretary sees USDA’s role as being a facilitator to unite the various groups trying to tackle food and poverty issues, and a funder to help find and support the most effective programs. He says his goals are to ensure the nutritional needs of the next generation are being properly met and to give poor families their best shot at entering and staying in the middle class.

“Most people don’t choose to be poor,” Vilsack says. “Most people are really working hard, playing by the rules, doing what they can they can to take care of their families, and they like to know that there is somebody who is caring for them and caring about them. That’s basically the gist of what we’re trying to do at USDA.”

Empowering Communities to Find Their Own Solutions
UK’s Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center will coordinate grants to selected local agencies in Kentucky and other impoverished states to develop solutions for food insecurity problems in their communities, and to strengthen existing child nutrition programs.

Professor Alison Davis says she doesn’t want UK telling communities what they should do. Instead she wants the center to provide assistance and guidance to good ideas that arise from the grassroots.

“Each community, even though they’re all rural, even though we have very small counties, they’re all unique in their own way,” explains Davis. “So having them determine the solution that works best for their individual assets, for their unique needs, for their geography is really what we try to do.”

Vilsack says the center will evaluate the local programs it funds to determine which are the most successful, and then seek to replicate those strategies in other communities that face similar challenges.

Helping One Child Helps Everyone
Davis says UK was able to land the new center based on previous efforts through its Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, which designed to empower citizens with tools, research, and guidance they need to improve their own communities. Davis acknowledges some rural people may be skeptical when university or government officials come into a small town saying they’re there to help. But she says the trust level between UK and rural Kentuckians continues to increase because they know the school has a true commitment to making the region better.

Davis says her goals for the Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center are for more families to get the help they’re already eligible for and for more children to get greater access to nutritious food. Vilsack adds that he wants to see dramatic reductions in the overall poverty rates for children, which will result in less taxpayer dollars going to entitlement programs and health care expenses.

“When we help an individual child or we help a family, we’re not just helping that child and that family,” Vilsack says. “We’re helping all of us.”

amgrad3KET’s education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sponsored by:

You give every Kentuckian the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through KET.

The "Let's Learn Kentucky" logo in white on a teal background, the copy, "An easy-to-navigate resource hub for parents and caregivers", and an illustration of a child stacking letter blocks A to E, along with a button that says, "Learn More".The "Let's Learn Kentucky" logo in white on a teal background, the copy, "This easy-to-navigate resource hub for parents and caregivers focuses on a child's early years -- an especially important developmental time.", and an illustration of a child stacking letter blocks A to E, along with a button that says, "Learn More".

TV Schedules


No upcoming airdates


No recent airdates

Season 10 Episodes

Jeff Smith and Jonathan Miller

S10 E53 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 12/27/15

Economic Boom for Kentucky Bourbon

S10 E52 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 12/20/15

Steve Beshear Reflects on Service

S10 E51 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 12/13/15

Dr. R. Albert Mohler

S10 E50 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 11/22/15

Governor-elect Matt Bevin

S10 E49 Length 29:03 Premiere Date 11/15/15

Kentucky Life Host Doug Flynn

S10 E48 Length 28:26 Premiere Date 11/08/15

Al Cross on the 2015 Election

S10 E47 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 11/01/15

Trey Grayson

S10 E46 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10/11/15

Tony Kemper of the de Paul School

S10 E45 Length 27:26 Premiere Date 10/04/15

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth

S10 E44 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 09/27/15

David Gregory on His Journey of Faith

S10 E43 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 09/20/15

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie

S10 E42 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 09/13/15

Sen. Mitch McConnell

S10 E41 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 09/05/15

Education Chief Reflects on Service

S10 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 08/23/15

Making the Case for Higher Academic Standards

S10 E38 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 08/15/15

Emily Bingham Discusses Aunt's Biography

S10 E36 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 08/01/15

Personalized Cancer Treatment

S10 E35 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 07/25/15

Stu Silberman and Brigitte Blom Ramsey

S10 E34 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 07/18/15

Coding - Part 2

S10 E33 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 07/11/15

Scott Terrell on the Lexington Philharmonic

S10 E30 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 06/20/15

Jane Chu and Lori Meadows Discuss Kentucky Arts

S10 E29 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 06/13/15

Giving Voice to Kentucky Women

S10 E28 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/06/15

The Heroin Epidemic in Kentucky

S10 E26 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/23/15

Al Cross Discusses May 2015 Primary

S10 E25 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 05/16/15

Immigration Laws in Louisville

S10 E24 Length 28:17 Premiere Date 05/09/15

Cameron Ludwick and Blair Hess

S10 E23 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/02/15

Len Peters Discusses the EPA

S10 E22 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 04/25/15

Kim Baker Discusses the Arts

S10 E21 Length 28:56 Premiere Date 04/18/15

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Alison Davis

S10 E20 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 04/11/15

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz

S10 E19 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 04/04/15

Dr. Mark Evers

S10 E18 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 03/28/15

Teddy Abrams

S10 E17 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 03/21/15

Dr. Robert Davies

S10 E16 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/22/15

Brad Jones: Black Walls Turn Gray

S10 E15 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 02/15/15

SOAR Executive Director Jared Arnett

S10 E14 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 02/08/15

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto

S10 E13 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 02/01/15

Rep. Andy Barr: One to One from Washington

S10 E12 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 02/04/15

Rep. Thomas Massie: One to One from Washington

S10 E11 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 02/03/15

Rep. John Yarmuth: One to One from Washington

S10 E10 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 02/02/15

Rep. Brett Guthrie: One to One from Washington

S10 E9 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 01/30/15

Rep. Ed Whitfield: One to One from Washington

S10 E8 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/29/15

Rep. Hal Rogers: One to One from Washington

S10 E7 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/28/15

Sen. Rand Paul: One to One from Washington

S10 E6 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 01/27/15

Sen. Mitch McConnell: One to One from Washington

S10 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/26/15

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell

S10 E4 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 01/06/15

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers

S10 E3 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/18/15

Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo

S10 E2 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 01/11/15

Gov. Steve Beshear

S10 E1 Length 28:41 Premiere Date 12/26/14

Explore KET