The goal of this project is to test whether a multi-level, community-engaged intervention to build a sustainable
food economy with food-is-medicine programs in the Mississippi Delta can improve minority health and reduce
health disparities. Our central hypothesis is that an intervention developed with active community engagement
to increase local production and distribution of fruits and vegetables (FV), will increase FV consumption and
decrease body mass index (BMI), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and health disparities among participating adults
compared to control participants over a 12-month study period.
Aim 1: To design a novel intervention that bolsters the local food economy and delivers food-is-medicine
programming to a minority population within communities with persistent disadvantage. Using the
principles and processes of community-engaged research, we will unite community partners and members of
Bolivar, Washington, and Sunflower Counties in a local multi-sector Delta Food Policy Council (FPC). The FPC
will design and implement a multi-level intervention to provide appropriate nutrition, focusing on locally grown
FV, to build a sustainable food economy and improve health outcomes.
Aim 2: To test whether the novel intervention reduces health disparities by improving outcomes related
to obesity and diabetes among a rural minority population. We will work collaboratively with the FPC to
implement and evaluate a multi-level, community-engaged, randomized controlled intervention targeting 300
adults (>25 y) with food insecurity, BMI >25, and HbA1c)>5.7-8.5%. Outcome measures are (*primary):
Individual-level: increase F+V consumption*; decrease obesity (BMI)*, diabetes risk (HbA1c)*, and systolic
Community-level: increase production and distribution of FV; institute access to produce and decrease food
insecurity; and decrease health care utilization
Aim 3: Generate a replicable and scalable food economy model to reduce obesity and improve diabetes.
The model will focus on adults living in areas with disadvantage and make sustainable food-is-medicine policy
recommendations related to SNAP, Medicare/Medicaid and the Farm Bill to state and federal legislatures.
Expected impact: Community-centered efforts that build vital local food economies to support food-is-medicine
programming represent a major innovation that integrates nutrition into the healthcare system and social safety
net to ameliorate disease, mitigate disparities, and save billions of dollars in health care expenditures annually.