Food Bank Receives $902,000 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grant to Continue Literacy and Health Equity Improvements in MS Children

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Mississippi Food Network (MFN) has begun a three-year project to continue to improve health equity and literacy in children ages 2-10 in the diverse communities of Jackson, East Biloxi and Sunflower County in Mississippi.

Mississippi Food Network (MFN) has begun a three-year project that will include an online digital platform to improve health equity and literacy in children ages 2-10 in the diverse communities of Jackson, East Biloxi and Sunflower County in Mississippi. The project is designed to empower these communities to effect change through the practical application of knowledge and resources using evidence-based programming to improve health equity, literacy rates, and overall quality of life.

The project, Thriving Communities, Thriving Children III (TCTC3), is funded by a $902,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant to help us continue to expand our role not only in improving the health status of children in these low-income communities, but to also strengthen the literacy rate, which contributes to overall health outcomes. These children not only experience higher rates of obesity but also disparities in health care, access to quality education and inequities in neighborhood and school environments,” said Dr. Charles Beady, Chief Executive Officer of MFN, a statewide food banking organization that is a member of the Feeding America national network of food banks.

TCTC3 will expand previous school and community-based obesity prevention programming (also funded by the Kellogg Foundation) in Mississippi and address literacy issues in the Early Childhood and at-home setting. The evidence-based OrganWise Guys nutrition, physical activity and healthy living program will be used as the intervention tool to provide consistent, proven messaging. A robust online platform of The OrganWise Guys programming will provide more expansive dissemination and implementation opportunities for educators and parents.

The programming used in TCTC 3 originates from the only school-based study to show statistically significant improvements in weight, blood pressure and waist circumference measures, as well as higher average standardized test scores of program children as compared to children who did not participate in the program interventions. A recent evaluation in Sunflower County also indicate statistically significant improvements in literacy rates in PreK students as well as third through fifth graders according to the University of Mississippi’s Center for Research Evaluation (CERE).

“Initial data suggest that PreK students at Sunflower schools using The OrganWise Guys curriculum had significantly higher gains on the MKAS test when compared to those in non-OrganWise Guys schools,” said Dr. Sarah Mason, Director of the Center for Research Evaluation. “There’s also early evidence to suggest The OrganWise Guys videos — distributed as part of the project’s Healthy Kid Box — may be a potential lever of change. Children who received the Healthy Kid Box and regularly watched The OrganWise Guys videos showed greater improvements in literacy when compared to those who watched the videos less frequently.”

“We are grateful for the long-term support the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has provided this project. TCTC3 will allow us to expand on the successful obesity prevention programming which continues to flourish in Mississippi and also address the crucial need to improve literacy skills for these vulnerable children,” said Dr. Michelle Lombardo, President of The OrganWise Guys Inc. in Atlanta, GA and Project Director for TCTC3.

The Kellogg Foundation, based in Battle Creek, Michigan, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success and as contributors to the larger community and society.

About Mississippi Food Network
Mississippi Food Network began in 1984 as a food bank warehouse facility to accumulate, store and distribute food and household items for charities that would make the final distribution to needy people in the community. That first year the startup nonprofit distributed 139,000 pounds of food and grocery products. Today, some 29.7 million pounds of food are distributed, through MFN’s network of 430 statewide agencies, serving more than 150,000 people each month

MFN’s mission is to relieve poverty-related hunger in its service area by distributing donated and purchased food and grocery products through a network of member churches and nonprofit organizations. They also provide nutrition education to needy clients and emphasize advocacy and related needs. For more information, visit

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Michelle Lombardo

Charles Beady
since: 03/2009
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