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Making Healthy Food Accessible for All – Introducing Sunshine for All in Jackson, MS

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We’re kicking off the Sunshine for All program in Jackson, MS—a city with one of America’s largest food deserts and only one grocery store for every 10,000 residents—to address the critical issue of food insecurity. With the help of local organizations, we’re making healthy foods accessible to the Jackson community, and eventually, other areas where nutritional, affordable produce and vegetables are out of reach.

Taking action on our promise to make nutritious foods accessible for 1 billion people by 2025, we have introduced the Sunshine for All program in one of America’s largest food deserts: Jackson, MS

We recently made a promise to make nutritious foods accessible for 1 billion people by 2025. With the issue of food insecurity reaching crisis levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re taking a first step of action to bring our promise to life.

We’ve created the Sunshine for All program, a community-centric program dedicated to bringing fresh and packaged produce, nutritious meals and educational opportunities to communities that need it the most.

The lack of access to full-service grocery stores, farmers’ markets and other vendors that sell nutritious fruits and vegetables has created food deserts and food swamps across the country. Food deserts are defined as areas that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. On the contrary, food swamps are areas with an abundance of fast food restaurants, convenience stores and liquor stores that primarily sell junk food.

Jackson possesses a unique makeup of both food swamps and deserts. There are only 20 grocery stores, and of those stores, less than 5 percent stock locally grown fresh produce. In contrast, there are 70 fast food restaurants, 60 convenience stores, and 150 gas stations that primarily sell unhealthy options. The result: Jackson is one of America’s unhealthiest cities.

With support from Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, we have partnered with local chefs and organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi, Up in Farms, Smoothie King and Foot Print Farms to creatively tackle the challenge of getting nutritious foods into underserved areas in Jackson. Key program elements include:

  • A $75,000 donation from Dole Packaged Foods to Up in Farms to support their Farm-to-Table Training Center and sustainably equip the commissary to provide 1,000 nutritious meals/day to those in need.

  • Weekly pop up farmers’ markets at Boys and Girls Clubs located in food desert neighborhoods, offering affordable, locally grown produce from Foot Print Farms, fresh smoothies from Smoothie King, and grab-and-go hot meals created by local chefs Nick Wallace and Regina Wallace, as well as Dole chef ambassadors Jamie Gwen and Ally Phillips Virtual Dole Kids Cooking Camp sessions and classes for adults that offer cooking lessons and hacks about how to shop smart and eat healthy for less.

  • Building sustainable Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Gardens at Boys and Girls Clubs and elementary schools, aimed at inspiring kids to a lifetime of healthy eating with fruits and vegetables.

  • Future plans to partner with local entrepreneurs to expand farmers markets and healthy food trucks in the food desert areas of the city.

  • We’re excited about the program’s impact in Jackson, but we’re not stopping there. Using Jackson as a template, we’re planning to bring Sunshine for All to more communities in need around the world.

Nominate Your Hometown to be the Next Sunshine for All City

Nominate a city as Dole’s next Sunshine for All location. To enter, send an email to Marty.Ordman@doleintl.com or post using #SunshineforAllYOURCITY via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook telling us why your hometown should be our next stop.

Selections will be made by Dole based on need (access to fresh foods, status as a food desert or food swamp), number of posts using the hashtag and mentioning your city and quality of entry (did it address why, creativity). The second Dole Sunshine for All destination will be announced on Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

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