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.
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 make up one-fourth of their vegetable intake. Juice, which may lack the 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.
CPR Anytime School and Business Kits Sponsorship
Studies show that individuals of all ages can and should learn the life-saving skills of CPR and what to do if a family member suffers from a cardiac arrest. The CPR Anytime Program can be implemented in schools and businesses to educate all on the skills necessary to perform CPR in an emergency.
CPR in Schools Training Kit™ The American Heart Association now offers the CPR in Schools Training Kit to help school districts meet recent state legislative requirements. The CPR in Schools Training Kit is specially designed for a fun and interactive learning experience with hands-on CPR practice in a school setting. The instructional DVD's practice-while-watching approach allows anyone to share these lifesaving skills. The kit, for both schools and businesses, includes a Facilitator Guide to make it easy to conduct the training in just one class period or business meeting.
The following schools have CPR kits sponsored by the Jackson Heart Foundation:
- Callaway High School
- Jim Hill High School
- Provine High School
- Madison Ridgeland Academy
- Richland High School
- Jackson Academy
- St. Joe
- St. Andrews
- Canton Academy
- Clinton Christian Academy
- East Rankin
- Central Hinds
- Tri County Academy in Flora
- Mt. Salus Christian School in Clinton
- Discovery Christian School in Florence
The following businesses have CPR kits sponsored by the Jackson Heart Foundation:
- The Clarion-Ledger
- Brown Bottling Group
- MS Children's Museum
Mississippi leads the nation in obesity and poor health factors. The goal of the Fit 4 Series is to take Mississippi out of this category. With the success of programs like Fit 4 Change and Fit 4 Teaching, state legislators and teachers have lead the way by losing over 10,000 lbs. Another goal of the Fit 4 Teaching is to reach Mississippians that would otherwise not be able to afford and experience the benefits of a fitness program.
In 2014, Fit4Change kicked off with over 140 participants. Participants included legislators, governor staff, and state employees.
Heart Beats of Jackson is an annual cardiovascular health screening hosted by the Jackson Heart Foundation and a local chamber, along with local community hospitals.
This event has touched nearly 1,500 lives in Jackson, MS, and the healthcare providers have performed tests costing approximately $1,861,500. Screenings include an EKG, ABI, echocardiogram, lipid panel, and a doctor consultation. The medical staff involved in performing the screenings includes approximately 35 cardiologists and approximately 100 nurses, med techs, lab techs, and other personnel. This event has been extremely successful and has received much support from the community.
Resources for health education throughout the school systems in MS are starting to pick back up. The foundation is working with Baptist Health Foundation to provide a comprehensive online curriculum resource on health education for grades K-12. The curriculum will be available to 18 counties and 34 school districts. This curriculum meets national and state health education standards, contains cross-curricular information, has access to numerous background resources and is customizable to each school's needs.
Our work with this program included promoting good nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle for the after-school children at Mission First, alongside the Junior League of Jackson. "Heart disease affects millions of people. And now our youngest generation is at risk because of childhood obesity. If we can teach them the importance of making healthy decisions regarding nutrition and exercise, then we will help make a difference in the health of our future generations," says Clay Hays, MD.
We joined H&R Block and other local businesses and reached out to the community by providing educational materials and a small health screening. The Jackson Heart
Foundation did a lipid test on those who were interested.
The Beyond Therapy Pediatric Group in Ridgeland, MS hosted the first annual "Youngest Loser" in the summer of 2011. The focus is to help obese children lose weight in a healthy manner and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
Doctors, Rick Guynes and Clay Hays, took the time, along with volunteers from the Jackson Heart Clinic, to lead the group in biking close to five miles on the Natchez Trace bike trail. We also provided a lipid screening and educational talk for the parents. The foundation looks forward to working on this project every year.