Northern Mississippi FoodRx

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2024: $399,969.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2027
Grant Recipients: The University of Mississippi; Happy Foods Project; Creative Minds Academy; James C. Kennedy Wellness Center; Mississippi Delta Council for Farm Worker Opportunities, Inc.
Region: Southern
State: Mississippi
Principal Investigator:
Natalie Minton
The University of Mississippi
Dr. Casandra Banks
Creative Minds Academy
Jillian Morrison, J.D.
The University of Mississippi
Robbie Pollard
Happy Foods Project
Dr. Meagen Rosenthal
University of Mississippi


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

The North Mississippi FoodRx program (NMFP) is a food
prescription program designed to connect historically underserved
small-scale horticultural farmers directly with their
communities. The Community First Research Center’s (CREW) current
research shows one of the top five biggest challenges for
underserved small-scale horticultural farmers in Mississippi is
the marketing system. Farmers markets do not provide sufficient
income and the number of individual buyers is dwindling. NMFP
will provide a framework for two marketing systems, test each
system, and modify the systems to create a sustainable food
system for farmers and their communities. 

The tested marketing systems will be operated as food
prescription programs for populations struggling with food
insecurity in northern Mississippi. Participating farmers will
use sustainable farming practices to grow fruits and vegetables
and curate food boxes of their own produce and value-added
products for program-enrolled patients in their area. The food is
the prescription to assist patients with low access to healthy
produce and pre-existing health conditions. This project will
test the prescription delivery method and its effects on patient
health and farmer wellbeing. 

CREW has developed three food prescription programs over the past
two years; two of which will serve as the baseline models for
this project. One program is a food hub model
which currently uses a regional produce wholesale company that
focuses on patient health metrics. Another program uses a
food delivery model with a local farmer that
focuses on delivery logistics. This project will evaluate these
two food prescription program models.

During the first year, CREW will partner with participating
farmers to develop two sustainable business plans, one for food
delivery and the other for a food hub. The second year will test
each developed program. CREW will collect biometric data from
patients and survey patients and participating farmers to
evaluate each program’s success and sustainability. Based on the
findings from this year of data collection CREW will modify and
combine the original business plans to create a program best
suited for patient health and farmer wellbeing, which will be the
most likely way to sustain the new food system.

The third year will implement the modified program. CREW will
observe the new system’s function, collect patient biometric
data, and survey patients and farmers to ensure long-term system

This project’s research is meant to evaluate patient health
changes over the course of two years and evaluate the success of
each food prescription model. Results from this research will
curate a food prescription model best suited for underserved
farmers and their communities. Results will also provide a better
understanding of the effects of healthy food choices on the human
body when access barriers are reduced.

Project objectives from proposal:

  1. Adapt two existing food prescription program models and
    create business plans for implementation in new cooperating
    partners and settings.
  2. Pilot test the two adapted food prescription programs to
    determine which program is most effective for patients and
    sustainable for farmers.
  3. Roll-out the most effective and sustainable food prescription
    program for additional recruitment, evaluation, and
    sustainability plans.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.