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History of the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative

The Delta Fresh Foods Initiative (DFFI) is a diverse coalition of community stakeholders committed to establishing sustainable, equitable community food systems in the Mississippi Delta. Members of the group include growers, consumers, health and agriculture educators, food retailers (including farmers' markets and other outlets), community-based organizations, funders, healthy food advocates and more.

February 2010 saw the birth of DFFI, in partnership with WhyHunger, a national non-profit organization committed to building the food movement throughout the country and around the world. 

More than 130 local participants were convened to share their vision for a healthy Mississippi Delta, establish a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing Delta residents today, and develop a community action plan to make their vision a reality.Since that time, DFFI has developed into a strong network of committed members who seek to build supply and demand for fresh locally grown food in the region by connecting existing components of sustainable community food systems in the Delta; bringing together other national and local partners with a variety of resources; providing training and technical assistance for sustainable growers, consumers and advocates; and engaging the next generation in building community food systems The Delta Fresh Foods Initiative is growing and expanding as membership and leadership within the coalition, partnerships and projects, and momentum continue to build. Join us for a healthier, more productive Mississippi Delta!

​A Message from the Board

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative,

I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. It is with great excitement and a sense of accomplishment that I write to share some remarkable news. Over the past year, the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative has taken a significant step forward in our mission to establish sustainable, equitable community food systems in the Mississippi Delta.

As many of you know, our journey began in 2009, and since then, we have tirelessly worked to build a foundation that empowers our communities through agriculture, education, and collective action. We are deeply committed to our vision of fostering health and wealth for all in the Delta, and we understand that this transformation starts with dedicated efforts and a strong sense of community.

I am thrilled to announce that the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative has expanded its horizons by acquiring a 13.1-acre farm in the heart of the Delta in Cleveland, Mississippi. This farm represents not only a significant milestone for our organization but also a new chapter in our ongoing commitment to the people of the Delta region.

Our acquisition of this farm is a testament to the enduring dedication of our board, staff, and partners. It signifies our belief in the power of sustainable agriculture to drive positive change, and it opens up a world of possibilities for us to further our mission.

The farm will serve as a hub for our initiatives, enabling us to engage more deeply with the local community. We are excited to continue our work in Bolivar County and expand our efforts into this new space. This acquisition aligns perfectly with our goal to build a model that can be replicated across the Delta, utilizing local food systems as tools for economic development and improved health outcomes.

Furthermore, we are enthusiastic about growing our Youth Ambassadors program, which empowers young people to be agents for change. Through this program, local youth aged 16-24 will receive training in community organizing, food production, distribution, marketing, and ongoing consumer education. This investment in the next generation reflects our commitment to long-term sustainability and community-driven progress.

The journey ahead is an ambitious one, but we are heartened by the rich natural and human resources at our disposal and the growing desire for positive change in our small, rural Delta communities.

In closing, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support over the years, especially our funders. Without you, our accomplishments would not have been possible. Your continued support and belief in our mission inspire us to work tirelessly towards a better future for the Mississippi Delta.

We look forward to sharing more stories of success with you as we embark on this exciting new chapter. Together, we will continue to build the Good Food Revolution and bring health and wealth to our communities.

Thank you for being an integral part of the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative family.

Warm regards,

Valeria Hawkins

Valeria Hawkins, MPA

Board Chair, Delta Fresh Foods Initiative

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Left to right: Deborah Moore, Valeria Hawkins (Board President) Keith Benson, Trena Robinson, Gloria Dickerson (Treasurer)

Meet Our Board of Directors

Board Chair

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Valeria Hawkins

Senior Program Manager
Share Our Strength
Sumner, MS 

Board Members

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Dr. Deborah Moore


1202 North Street
Cleveland, MS  Consultant

1202 North Street | Cleveland, MS  

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Trena L. Robinson, MBA

Director of Advancement &


St. Gabriel Mercy Center, Inc.

​Mound Bayou, MS 38762

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Keith A. Benson, Sr. 
​Alliance of Sustainable Farms
1060 E. County Line Rd. Suite 3A #162

Ridgeland, MS  39157

Dr. Degail Hadley

Dynamic Wellness


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