JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Low income families often struggle with obesity and the inability to eat healthy foods. The USDA and the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation are working to change that, offering them an opportunity to eat healthier, from farm and garden to table.
“We can make a difference block by block,” said Otis Wright, Jr.
He is the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation Community Farm Manager.
Wright owns the farmer’s market across the street from the medical mall.
He will soon be growing produce for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients.
Next door to the farmer’s market is one the lots where he grows free food for area residents to pick.
The Double Up Food Bucks programs will soon give SNAP recipients access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We can bring down blood pressure. We can decrease the obesity rate,” said Washington, who grew up farming in Tallulah Louisiana.
"All of our health disparities come from eating bad food. In this area we have a good swamp. What a food swamp pretty much is is too many fast food places and these are some of the only options that our people have around here".
The Jackson Medical Mall Foundation was awarded a $1.68 million dollar grant through the USDA for the program.
SNAP shoppers will buy produce from participating farmer’s markets, produce stands and grocery stores and for each dollar spent they will get an additional dollar on their next purchase, up to $20.00 a day.
Erin Smith is the Double Up Food Bucks MS Director and wrote the grant to get the funding.
“It’s also helping the most needy, the most vulnerable populations. we have children that are, living in Mississippi we don’t realize that they are food insecure. they are hungry,” said Smith. “Low income moms they wanted to be able too give their children more access to fresh fruits and vegetables”.
The statewide program begins in March with 10 locations and will include the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf Coast.