The Delta Fresh Foods Initiative has obtained authorization to accept SNAP benefits for purchases at the Mobile Market. Consumer outreach and education to galvanize support for the market will continue in Spring 2018. Significant potential for expanding job opportunities for area young people has become evident. The North Bolivar County Good Food Revolution is already gaining recognition and we are committed to building a model that could be replicated in other Delta communities.
Local food producers gathered to discuss ways to increase their production and develop marketing strategies to ensure an adequate supply of fresh produce for community members. Stipends will be made available to local growers who sign an agreement to provide fruits and vegetables for the proposed mobile market. Several have already made that commitment!
To promote the nutritional benefits of locally grown sweet potatoes, seventeen 40-pound boxes of potatoes from Louis and Martha Sanders' farm in Mound Bayou were distributed through MEGA’s Food Pantry and at a special event at Pilgrim’s Chapel MB Church in Winstonville in December 2017. Marketing for the benefits of a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables this coming Spring will include healthy cooking demonstrations and taste tests, presentations to several groups, and the first annual North Bolivar County Farm to Table gathering in March 2018. The event, featuring Dr. Michael Minor as our keynote speaker, will be held in the Fred Clark Family Life Center at Lampton Street Church of Christ in Mound Bayou and will feature healthy, local foods. Our young Good Food Ambassadors are excited to share their experiences with the project thus far and how growing and buying local food can bring jobs and better health to the region.
Twenty three young people were recruited by MEGA (Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture), the three local mayors, and local attorney, Julian Miller, Delta Fresh Foods Board Member. The students were trained in September 2017 by Dr. Leslie Hossfeld, Chair of the Sociology Department at MS State University. In October and November, these great students spent four Saturdays surveying more than 210 households in the three communities to find out where and how local residents get fresh produce, and what could be done to make more healthy food accessible. One key finding from the survey indicates that 88% of those surveyed say they will support a mobile market that provides fresh, local produce. Additional information gathered from the surveys was reviewed with representatives from all three communities, and a Local Advisory Board has been established to ensure local leadership and input as the project moves forward.
Delta Fresh Foods in partnership with local growers, Mayors, schools, and others has launched the North Bolivar County Good Food Revolution to bring economic opportunities and better health outcomes to Shelby, Mound Bayou and Winstonville through building a strong local food system. The North Bolivar County Good Food Revolution trains and engages area young people in meaningful ways including data collection, consumer education, food production, distribution and marketing.
With generous support from the Bolivar Medical Center Foundation, we are working with community stakeholders to increase food production and make more nutritious, locally grown fruits and vegetables available to more than 4,000 residents in north Bolivar County. Young people have learned valuable job skills and continue to play a strategic role in the effort to build health and wealth in their own communities. Below is a snapshot of this ambitious work in progress: