AIM for CHangE Success Stories
Together, we can change
For the better!
A healthier community is within our reach!
AIM for CHangE coalitions are doing some amazing things to improve community health! These are some examples of projects that we have going on throughout Mississippi.
Click below to find information about AIM for CHangE Community Action Projects.
Blooming Students in Sunflower County
Within the Sunflower Consolidated School District, the Freedom Project supports 50 rising 8th-graders each year, throughout the rest of their secondary education. Founded in 1998, the nonprofit has a 100% high school graduation rate and supplements students’ academics and health with field trips, nutrition demonstrations, and exercise classes. AIM for CHangE worked with the program through a CAP by providing cooking and food storage appliances, exercise equipment, and a water bottle refilling station.
Busy Bees in Washington County
Working with the Washington County coalition, AIM for CHangE supported local food producer Newsome Farms by helping to source bee-keeping equipment. The new tools are used to teach MSU Extension groups about the practice and benefits of beekeeping. Newsome Farms is planning to accept SNAP transfer payments and continues helping individuals better understand the nutritional benefits of honey over other sweeteners, as well as its unique medicinal qualities.
Community Champions on the Move
In Holmes County, the local emergency management team, the mayor’s office, and the public works office came together with the assistance of AIM for CHangE to create a safe environment for children to play. Their local agent was able to assist in the enhancement of a little league football field for students to practice, as well as other spots for local partners and community members to engage in physical activity.
Community Fitness in Action
After coalition members from Washington County expressed concern about the lack of a local public fitness center, they talked with their AIM for CHangE agent and generated a plan. The coalition members were granted use of two rooms in the Hollandale City Hall, and they created a list of necessary equipment. The group applied for Community Action Project (CAP) funding and received exercise equipment for the fitness center. Since its opening in January 2020, the Community Action for Healthy Lifestyles Fitness Center has helped community members lose more than 100 pounds.
ECHO Webinar Sessions
The University of Mississippi Medical Center has implemented an initiative called "Project ECHO". Project ECHO utilizes a ‘hub-and-spokes model’ to disseminate knowledge from a team of specialists (i.e., the hub) to other medical providers in the state (the spokes). It engages medical providers in modules and open discussion via videoconferencing. After partnering with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, AIM for CHangE is implementing a Project ECHO initiative to focus on providing constructive conversations over the topics of obesity, nutrition, and rural health to providers with unique opportunities and barriers compared to larger urban practices.
Extending a Helping Hand
It is estimated that one in every three households in Humphreys County struggles with food insecurity. The Helping Hands food pantry in Belzoni serves all of Humphreys County to reduce this burden. AIM for CHangE provided shelving and storage space and introduced the client-choice food pantry model. With this model, patrons make their own decisions regarding the food they receive, so volunteers can stock shelves instead of packing boxes. This model keeps clients happy and increases the pantry’s operating efficiency.
Fresh Produce Hits the Shelves in Issaquena
The Issaquena/Sharkey County Health Coalition helped local store owners in Issaquena County assess their retail food environments and bring healthier options to the area. The coalition received a CAP grant through AIM for CHangE that awarded equipment to store owners, increasing storage and distribution capacity and allowing owners to incorporate more fresh produce into their offerings. Now their neighbors have healthier, nutrient-dense options.
Getting Active in Itta Bena
In Leflore County, the coalition’s AIM for CHangE agent helped locals increase opportunities for physical activity in Itta Bena by working to beautify parks, restore tennis courts, and revitalize the downtown area for increased walkability. By improving the aesthetics and function of local amenities, physical activity opportunities become more desirable, promoting active transportation among residents.
Hearty Helpings in the Food System
Following the withdrawal of an important mobile hot-food program, the Hearty Helpings Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen opened in Greenville to support the needs of Washington County residents. For the last 10 years, the organization has partnered with Walmart, Mississippi Food Network, and Extra Table in Bolivar, Washington, and Sunflower Counties. AIM for CHangE helped to increase the storage and serving capacity of the Greenville operation. The nonprofit hopes to increase cold storage to accept greater dairy and produce donations in the future.
Making the Right Choice in Belzoni
In Humphreys County, when the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Belzoni reached out for support, AIM for CHangE increased the storage capacity of their long-standing food pantry. This community resource also transitioned to a client-choice model, which allows patrons to have more control over their food. This model allows patrons to make decisions based on what they need and what they use.
Planting the Seed
In Washington County, Delta EATS works with school districts to implement school gardens to support both the cafeteria and the classroom. The local AIM for CHangE coalition worked with the Leland school district to create the same opportunity for its middle schoolers. The students will get to work in their own school garden and pilot an educational chicken coop program, as well. The district was awarded another CAP that provides for cold storage and other cafeteria essentials to support the improved food sourcing. When children grow their own produce, they are more likely to eat it and more likely to bring healthy behaviors home.
Sharing Grace in Greenville
In Washington County, community members from Greenville sought to address the area’s absence of a grocery store. Taking advantage of existing assets, the coalition decided to apply for a CAP to create a greenhouse over the beloved Sharing Grace community garden so that it could produce fresh produce year-round. Once the greenhouse was built, they planted greens, bell peppers, radishes, green onions, beets, cucumbers, and corn. Now, they can reap the fruits of their labor throughout the year.
Supporting Families During the Pandemic
Community members from Lexington recognized opportunities to improve the accessibility of healthy foods when they sat down with the rest of the Holmes County coalition. Considering the distance to the nearest food pantries, the high levels of poverty, and the prevalence of social security and welfare programs in the community, they recognized that local needs may not be met by grocery stores selling fresh produce. The coalition is working with AIM for CHangE to find the best location to start their project; in the meantime, they partnered with the USDA and Mississippi Fruit and Produce to distribute nearly 40,000 pounds of COVID-19-relief food to over 1,300 families during May 2020.
Sustaining Community Roots
Working with the Belzoni chapter of Keep America Beautiful, AIM for CHangE and the Humphreys County coalition helped start a community garden. The group has planted 18 beds so far, with plans to double the size of the garden. They also hope to begin a farmers market with the surplus produce. They source plants and building materials locally, creating a sustainable and expanding project.
Working Together in Moorhead
A local landowner donated a plot to the Moorhead community with the request that it be used as a green space. After deliberating and acknowledging the scarcity of locally available fresh fruits and vegetables, the Sunflower County coalition partnered with Delta Community College to transform the plot into a community garden in a busy downtown area. Volunteers, maintenance workers, and community members, including students, will work in the garden. The coalition improved the structure around a local mural, beautifying the location and incentivizing active living via walkability.
RAYMOND, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service recently received a second cycle of funding for a project that has worked to combat obesity by helping people eat healthier and participate in physical activity. The AIM for CHangE program was awarded a five-year, $4.4 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help continue efforts to combat obesity in 10 target counties.
A cross section of Belzoni society turned out to celebrate the opening of a new downtown attraction, a StoryWalk park that’s aimed at children but also welcomes adult interaction. Centennial Park on West Jackson Street in downtown Belzoni now hosts bright-yellow word art that invites visitors to “share.” Within the park is the area’s first StoryWalk, a combination of literacy and physical activity.
DREW, Miss. -- The small Delta town of Drew in the heart of Sunflower County has created a private, public and academic partnership to fight food insecurity.
For its efforts, the town recently received a big new honor, along with funding to advance ongoing health equity improvements. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) last month awarded Drew and nine other communities the 2020–2021 Culture of Health Prize, along with $25,000.
LOUISVILLE, Miss. -- Jim McAdory wears many hats. On any given day, the Mississippi State University Extension Service agent fields calls from local cattle farmers, teaches kids about the importance of daily nutrition, and tests soil to diagnose front yard and garden harvest problems -- all before lunch.
Based in Winston County, McAdory recently gained an additional role: Mental Health First Aid instructor.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Only eight teams were accepted into the Society of Public Health Education Writing for Publication Workshop this summer, and one of them is from Mississippi State University.
Katharine Halfacre and Masey Smith, Extension specialists in the MSU Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion, were accepted into the competitive program for their involvement with the MSU Extension program AIM for CHangE.