Mississippi is home to nearly 3 million people, including approximately 650,000 men, women, and children who lack consistent access to the kinds of food required to live a healthy, active lifestyle. In Hinds County, more than 1 in 4 residents fall into this group, which is defined as being food insecure. With grocery stores in rural and low income communities closing their doors at an alarming rate, fresh foods are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire in these areas. The absence of stores providing fresh foods has contributed to Mississippi being left with generations of citizens who are largely reliant on highly processed, nutrient deficient foods.
Sow Reap Feed was formed in an effort to address these challenges of hunger and food insecurity head on. In the model we have developed, community focused micro-farms fill the voids left by shuttered grocery stores. Each of these micro-farms will be a production site for premium quality mixed produce while serving as a platform to teach people how to get food from the soil to their dinner tables. Of the produce harvested from these micro-farms, a minimum of 50% is donated to people in need, giving priority to individuals and families living in the micro-farm community before sending food to other charitable agencies. A maximum of 50% of the harvest is allocated for sale via farmers markets, restaurants, weekly subscriptions, and farm stands to help sustain the operation of the organization. As a component of our next phase of growth, we are pursuing a multi-acre urban farm site, which will allow us to greatly increase our production capacity and, consequently, our ability to provide fresh, healthy food for our neighbors in need.
Combination Ovens for Jackson Public Schools
The Jackson Heart Foundation is excited to share that we are working diligently to raise funds to help increase the cardiovascular health and well-being of the students in the Jackson Public School system, by removing the fryers from the cafeterias and replacing them with combination ovens. There are approximately forty Jackson public schools in need of combination ovens. Our goal is to turn the cafeterias into a classroom, not just a place of eating.
Over the last two years we have raised funds to help support the following schools:
- Johnson Elementary
- John Hopkins Elementary
- Marshall Elementary
- Walton Elementary
- Van Winkle Elementary
- Brinkley Middle
Studies show that healthy behavior positively impacts learning. The goal of the program is to improve children’s health.
- Nearly one in three American children is overweight or obese.
- American eating habits are leading to modern day “malnutrition,” with diets full of junk foods
- French fries are the most common source of vegetables consumed by children and makeup one-fourth of their vegetable intake. Juice, which may lack important fiber found in whole fruits, accounts for 40 percent of children’s daily fruit intake.
The American Heart Association Teaching Gardens, founded by Kelly Meyer, is an innovative national, school-based program to re-establish what it means to be healthy. Aimed at elementary school students, the Teaching Garden program provides hands-on learning experiences rooted in offering nutritional choices.
The following schools have gardens sponsored by the Jackson Heart Foundation:
- Davis Magnet School
- Casey Elementary
- Boys and Girls Club
The Teaching Gardens program is part of a larger American Heart Association, My Heart. My Life. healthy living initiative, designed to help Americans understand what it means to be healthy, and to take action. For more information about the Teaching Gardens program and how you can participate, visit www.heart.org/en/professional/educator/teaching-gardens.