Author Archives: Nina Prater

Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative: Establishing Partnership

Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative: Establishing Partnership

Fourteen people representing the six groups that form the Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative gathered for their first in-person meeting in Jackson, Mississippi on December 13, 2016.  The groups that make up the Collaborative include the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Asian Americans for Change, FoodCorps, Mileston Cooperative Association, Mississippi Farm to School Network, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Ms. Dorothy Scarborough of the Mississippi Farm to School Network shares a map of valuable partners in her community.

The project is funded by a grant of more than $2 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) of Battle Creek, Michigan. WKKF was founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg and is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States.  Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work, and life.

The first meeting of the Collaborative was to introduce partners, discuss the changes partners would like to see in the communities they serve, and share strengths and resources that they have to support each other in these efforts. This meeting also helped the partners understand where they are now and gave them a baseline that will allow them to evaluate the changes and growth they observe in their communities over the next two and a half years.

The morning activities were designed to spur conversation between the partners about their experiences with food justice issues within their communities, what is being done to increase food access, and to look at how history has contributed to current food injustices.  Food Justice project coordinator Liz Broussard said participants were encouraged to share memories and stories of their unique experiences, to assess their current situations, and to explore how they will move forward together toward a better food system.

After hearing different stories from the other members of the collaborative, Calvin Head, director of the Mileston Cooperative Association and a produce farmer himself, said that he was struck by how many similarities there were between the different members’ experiences.  He observed after the meeting, “Rural communities are all in the same boat and all have the same needs for the most part.  With such a diverse group, you wouldn’t anticipate those results.”  He had expected that people from the different organizations would have had different observations and experiences in relation to food justice, but, he said, “the similarities were overwhelming.”

Marlena Nip, Mississippi FoodCorps Fellow, was excited to be at what she felt was “a truly diverse” table of people.  As a newcomer to Mississippi, she was also glad to have the opportunity to meet people from all over the state whose missions are in line with that of FoodCorps.  Throughout the day, she heard stories from those born and raised in the state and said it “enhanced my understanding of Mississippi.  There is so much history here that is not told a lot of the time.”  She is hoping to connect FoodCorps members with the members of the Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative in the future for trainings or professional development opportunities.

It was the first of many meetings this special group of individuals will be having as they all work within their own regions and populations to increase access to and knowledge about healthy food, moving forward to collaborate and support each other as they strive to improve the overall health and well-being of their communities.

Meet New Farm Manager, Sam Humphrey!

Meet New Farm Manager, Sam Humphrey!

This spring, we’ll be getting our hands dirty as we start the first growing season at the Gulf States Region Demonstration Farm, and NCAT welcomes Sam Humphrey, who has been hired to manage this new project. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, much of Sam’s childhood was spent playing in the outdoors (i.e., following the great… Continue Reading

Welcome, Liz!

Liz Broussard has joined NCAT’s Gulf States Regional Office as the Food Justice Coordinator.  Liz is a new NCAT staff member, but a familiar face in NCAT’s Jackson office.  She served as a FoodCorps member in Connecticut for one year before becoming the FoodCorps Fellow in Jackson for two years.  Welcome back to Liz! Originally… Continue Reading

Inspiring Future STEM Leaders

Inspiring Future STEM Leaders

Gulf States Regional Office Director Rockiell Woods spent the day with elementary school students at the 4-H National Youth Science Day on October 5th at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The theme this year was “Drone Discovery” Engineering Design Challenge.  This annual event is designed to “spark an early youth interest and leadership” in topics… Continue Reading

“Down-to-Earth” Workshop Held for Sheep and Goat Producers

“I belong to the Mississippi Goat Association and I go to a lot of these things, too, but this is the most down-to-earth, informative workshop that I have ever seen.” That was the response of one farmer who attended the Risk Management for Small Ruminant Operations workshop, hosted by NCAT’s Gulf States Regional Office in… Continue Reading

Talking Whole-Farm Risk Management

Talking Whole-Farm Risk Management

NCAT’s Gulf States Regional Office Director Rock Woods and Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Felicia Bell have had the opportunity to discuss an important but often overlooked aspect of agriculture with farmers throughout the south this spring and summer: risk management. While not as flashy a topic as the latest and greatest seed variety or tractor model,… Continue Reading

Gulf States Office is Growing!

NCAT’s Gulf States office welcomes a new member to the team! Nina Prater joined NCAT on May 16th, 2016, and will be assisting the Gulf States team from her location in Fayetteville, AR. Nina has a background in soil science, and has experience helping farmers meet their conservation goals as a former employee of her… Continue Reading