The Safe Routes to School Mississippi network prides itself on the ability to connect with those organizations within the state that are passionate about ridding the state of the childhood obesity epidemic.
Fayette Community Service Organization (FCSO) is one of those organizations that not only care about the people of the community, but puts its love for the community in action by giving back. They reside in Fayette, MS (Jefferson County) where the population is 1,557. Although small in stature, it heralds as the most obese city in United States (being the most obese city in the most obese state). Fayette Community Service Organization has taken on the challenge of changing this status. In 2009, FCSO began an Agricultural Division to educate young men and women on how to develop businesses from locally grown fresh produce. Channel 12 news picked up the story and cited that “the most obese county in Mississippi is teaching healthy lifestyles to youth.” After hearing this news report, FCSO conducted internet research and attended meetings to learn more about the effects of obesity and how it relates to Jefferson County. After receiving the news that they were the most obese city in America, they were charged for service even more. To address these issues and move Jefferson County from a fat to fit county, Fayette Community Service Organization (FCSO) initiated the Let’s Move Mississippi From Fat to Fit (LMMFFTF) Program on January 1st, 2011 for the residents in the community. They began to rally the troops, roll up their sleeves and start working to reduce the obesity rate. They gained the attention of U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, Rep. Benny Thompson, Walgreen Pharmacy, Jefferson County Administrator for Community Development and Intervention and several community leaders. They pulled together resources to build community gardens and expanded these gardens to the city limits. They also engaged children from Jefferson County Public Schools to assist in the efforts.
Most recently they solicited business to donate more than 50 bicycles to youth to provide for a healthier lifestyle. Their efforts have propelled them from ranking as the number olne obese city in the state to number four! They serve as a model community for the NationalPartnership as we work to reduce childhood obesity. When I asked the founders, Anthony & Janelle Edwards, what was their goal for the organization they replied, “To become the inspiration for the nation.” Having knowledge of a problem creates awareness, but having compassion moves us to action. In future blogs we will talk about others around the state dedicated to the cause. To join the Mississippi network, contact me.