Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity, Inc. is a community based project that is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the USDA, it has a primary focus on raising awareness leading to community action where health and social disparities exist. The mission of Mississippi Roadmap is to achieve health equity by advocating for changes within the community institutions that influence people’s everyday lives. The goal is to change these institutions so that they support and never inhibit the community’s efforts to be healthy. The Roadmap Project uses an innovative, multi-pronged approach toward eradicating and/or minimizing the structural or social barriers relevant to disparities in health among vulnerable populations in Jackson, Mississippi. Since it began in 2003, the project has achieved many successes, including the active support of school officials and food-service workers, who as a result of our influence on improving their health, have moved closer to changing school food policy toward healthier, fresh ingredients for students’ lunch.
Mississippi Roadmap hosts FoodCorps service members who work in several communities around the state, including the capital city, Jackson. Service members are responsible for maintaining or building at least 2 school gardens and using these gardens as tools to teach the relative school communities about healthy food options. Through the development of school gardens and relationships with teachers, students, parents, community members and others, service members help conduct “action research” to understand and document the factors that influence, and the resources that support nutrition and physical activity in their service sites. By pursuing local farmers and food service directors, service members also encourage the development of Farm to School sourcing patterns across the state.