AUGUSTA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $1.6 million to four Maine school districts and a rural health provider to improve access to rural broadband and telemedicine.

The grant is through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program. Maine’s U.S. senators say the money will help connect rural areas with medical and educational experts across the country.

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King say the grant will also increase access to health care, substance abuse treatment and educational opportunities in rural Maine.

The school districts are in the Cushing, Carmel, Parkman and Frenchville areas.

The health provider is MaineHealth, which will be awarded nearly $400,000 to install telehealth videoconferencing carts. The carts will be provided to three home health agency sites.