USDA Rural Development Partners with TDEC for a Safer, Cleaner and Healthier Future

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Thanh-Thanh Pham
(615) 783-1300
Through RD’s Community Facilities Grant Program, two pharmaceutical bins were placed in four counties to safely receive and contain unwanted medicines.

Unwanted and expired medication left idly sitting in a household has the potential to be a safety, environmental and health concern for the occupants of their homes. This issue prompted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to implement a program that could easily “take back” old prescriptions across the state.

As a result, TDEC created the Tennessee Household Pharmaceutical Take Back Program in support of the Governor’s Prescription for Success Initiative, a strategic plan developed by the Tennessee Department of Mental health and Substance Abuse Services in collaboration with sister agencies to address the prescription drug epidemic in Tennessee. The drug take back program involves the use of placing pharmaceutical bins designed to safely receive and contain unwanted medicines. The bins are located in a safe and secure area that is accessible to the public during normal business hours. Although the program was steering in the right direction, TDEC was  roughly six counties away from having all 95 counties participate in the program.

While TDEC was in search of extra funding needed to fulfill the statewide drug take back initiative, USDA Rural Development was in the process of allocating the rest of its Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program funds for rural communities. Thus, USDA-RD approached TDEC Deputy Director of Central Office Lisa Hughey about a potential partnership.

USDA-RD and TDEC compared the remaining counties and found that six were eligible rural areas. Consequently, the two organizations worked together to secure four counties to participate in the program—Fayette, Crockett, Hickman and Benton—and eight pharmaceutical bins. USDA-RD’s Community Facility grant covered almost 75 percent of the project’s total cost which left TDEC to absorb the remaining amount. Each county will receive two bins to be placed at local police departments.

Since 2012, TDEC’s program continues to grow each year. With the help of USDA-RD, TDEC will have a total of 174 bins in 93 counties across Tennessee. Thus, this partnership allowed TDEC to have nearly all counties across the state participating in such a program and initiative that emphasizes a safer, cleaner and healthier future.

Fast Facts

Obligation Amount$13,200
Date of ObligationJuly 2016
Congressional DistrictBlackburn, 7; Fincher, 8
Senator's Last NamesAlexander and Corker