In America’s Health Rankings annual report for 2012, Mississippi and Louisiana tied for the 49th least healthy states. Moreover, “these two states have been in the bottom three states since the 1990 Edition.”
However, thanks to The Bower Foundation, an organization which provides grants to support better health for Mississippi, the nutritional prospects for the state are looking up. The Bower Foundation recently awarded $540,000 to the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools, in support of the Nutrition Integrity 2014 Program.
In response to “the vast healthy challenges facing Mississippians,” The Bower Foundation “directs its funds and energies into making sustainable, systematic improvements in the state’s health and education infrastructures.”
And for children who eat two-thirds of their meals at school every day, cafeterias ironically represent one of the greatest challenges to their success. One of the main missions of The Bower Foundation’s funding is to make the transition from deep-fryers to combination oven steamers. Since 2006, the Foundation has helped 134 schools install oven steamers.
Additionally, it has helped to increase nutrition and physical education curriculums at schools.
So while Mississippi may be trailing behind in the health report, it may be leading the way in nutrition reform in schools. Says Dr. Lynn House, the interim state superintendent of education: “Mississippi is leading the way in improving the health of our school children through the partnership of the Mississippi Board of Education.”