Outreach efforts aim to address Mississippi's obesity struggles - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Outreach efforts aim to address Mississippi's obesity struggles

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -

Can farm-fresh produce turn the tide on Mississippi's obesity battle? Two Mississippi organizations are betting on it, helping hundreds of metro-area residents eat healthier for Thanksgiving.

For two hours at the Jackson Medical Mall on Thursday, volunteers gave out fresh vegetables and healthy recipes to UnitedHealthcare members to promote better eating habits, one person at a time.

"It really is difficult to get the (healthy) kind of food for us to eat, like the vegetables, meat," said Brandon resident Pearlean Rhodes. "It's hard for us."

The promise of fresh veggies and a Thanksgiving-worthy turkey brought Rhodes to the event, along with about two hundred others.

Organizers said the food given out doesn't always make it into most people's pantries, especially in the Magnolia State.

"Mississippi has been voted the fattest state in the country, so it's vitally important that we do exercise and eat healthy for the overall health and well-being of the average Mississippian," said a man standing in line.

Insurance provider UnitedHealthcare and Alcorn State University joined forces to go around Mississippi, giving out farm-grown vegetables to folks.

"What we hope comes out of it is one, that people learn to eat healthy," said Jocelyn Chisholm Carter, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Mississippi. "We're trying to teach our members to take ownership of their lives, take ownership of their health, and part of it is starting to eat healthy."

This was the fourth and final stop along the way for the partnership this year, with such a demand in Jackson that UnitedHealthcare offered the healthy options to its members only.

In previous Farm to Fork events, members of the general public could purchase a bag of vegetables for $5, with proceeds going to ASU.

For Rhodes, it's a chance to eat right at the time of year when so many choose the opposite.

"I need help, and I thank God for providing them the food to give us to be able to have to serve to our family to help out for Thanksgiving," Rhodes said.

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