ANCHORAGE -

A program designed to tackle persistent poverty is expanding in Alaska.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the problem lies mostly in rural areas both here and across the country. The USDA is set to roll out a program it calls StrikeForce. It used census data to identify areas of the state with the highest rates of persistent poverty. Those include south east, interior and western Alaska with the exception of the rail belt and the North Slope. 

Last year communities in south east Alaska saw $11.3 million in grants and loans under the program. This year, several entities under the USDA will be working to identify needs in western and interior Alaska and how its programs can address them.

“There are communities in rural Alaska that are still on honey buckets. That's defiantly a need,” said USDA Alaska Farm Service Agency Executive Director Danny Consenstein.

He says sewer and water is at the top of the list. They're just one area it says there are programs in place that can go to work and improve.

“It's this wide range of services and programs related to food security helping to produce more of their own food out there related to energy, renewable energy,” Consenstein said.

The StikeForce program got its start in 2010 but only came to Alaska last year. To begin, the USDA will visit several hub communities in west Alaska around mid-September.