Rural Connections Blog

    An Article Summary of USDA Research on Impacts of USDA's Community Facilities Program: A Fortuitous Assistance to Rural America During COVID-19

    Authors: Tamara Telles, MPH, Kellie Kubena, and Julia H. Cho, PhD 


    The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the United States, with a death toll surpassing 540,000 by March 19, 2021, as noted at the time of the analysis in the article. Rural communities have faced unique challenges while also finding unique opportunities as a result of the pandemic.  Limited access to care and aging populations increased vulnerability to COVID-19, while less dense population and distance from urban centers initially spared rural areas from the worst of COVID-19 impacts.  Moving into the future, rural populations must think about how to manage community public health with some residents that cannot stay home when ill such as those in agriculture, food processing, or service jobs or where residents must travel farther for care especially elder or specialized care. Amid these challenges, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has played a pivotal role in supporting rural America. The USDA's Rural Development (RD) mission area aims to enhance rural prosperity and the quality of life in rural America. One of the prominent programs is the Community Facilities (CF) Program, which has proven to be a valuable assistance for rural areas during the pandemic as it turned out to have prepared rural America for unforeseen healthcare calamity. The CF program focuses on financing community facilities and infrastructure development in rural areas, encompassing healthcare facilities and related services.  As a result, USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center and USDA’s Economic Research Service worked together to better understand how investment by USDA’s CF Program impacted the outcomes related to COVID-19 in rural communities.

    • Health Services
    • Public Safety
  • Boone County Photo

    Revitalizing Rural Southern West Virginia with RPN

    Boone County sits in the heart of the Southern Coalfields of West Virginia. Once full of thriving communities due to the booming coal industry, the county government is now grappling with a downturn in the industry. Now, the region is leveraging its resources to face these new economic challenges head on. Community members are optimistic about the hope that lies ahead thanks to the opportunities presented by its scenic landscape, committed residents, strong businesses, and initiatives like the Rural Partners Network that’s bringing federal and local resources to rural communities.

    • Agriculture & Forestry
    • Community Development
    • Economic & Business Development
    • Public Safety
  • Pastor Benjie

    RPN Partners with Community to Lead Resiliency Efforts in Guanica, Puerto Rico

    By January 2020, Guánica, Puerto Rico, suffered the ravage of several earthquakes that caused economic and housing instability and marked the lives of residents. For Pastor Benjamín Toro (Pastor Benjie), it was the beginning of a new stage in his life as he stepped into a role as the pastor for the Bet-El Council of Puerto Rico.

    Immediately following the catastrophes, Pastor Benjie made himself available not only to his parishioners, but also to the entire community. Together with the Samaritan Purse organization, he has been able to repair more than 20 houses and has inspired the community to come together to renovate the church.

    • Disaster Relief
    • Disaster Resilience
    • Economic & Business Development
    • Employment & Career Development
    • Housing
  • Staff pose for meat butcher training

    Rural Partners Network Works with Local Partners to Establish Meat Processing Certification Program

    In New Mexico, the Doña Ana Community Network kicked off their work with the Rural Partners Network by hosting a community meeting in December 2022 to discuss investment and technical assistance opportunities. One need that quickly emerged was a meat butcher training. Stampede Meat Inc., a local protein company in New Mexico, had a training curriculum set up in the Chicago area for their employees but wanted to expand on that effort.

    • Economic & Business Development