Mississippi Coastal Plains RC&D Council has just launched two projects that focus on increasing the health of infants and the quality of family life. The first project is a community kitchen designed to teach children and adults about healthy food choices. The facility will host cooking classes to demonstrate healthful methods of food preparation and community discussions on health and nutrition. Participants will also receive guides to healthy cooking and information about how and where to shop for health-promoting foods.
The second RC&D Council project is a collaboration with multiple state agencies: called EXCEL by 5, the program focuses on early childhood health and education issues. Funded with a $650,000 grant from Chevron, the program is currently in ten Mississippi communities, including Biloxi, Cleveland, Hollandale, Mid-Jackson, Monroe County, Moss Point, Oktibbeha County, Pascagoula, Petal and West Point. It emphasizes the important role that communities play in educating their children during their most formative years -- from birth to age five. It sets a variety of standards involving parent training, community participation, childcare, and health to help communities focus on supporting young children and their families. A certification process also identifies available resources and existing best practices to help participating communities reach the goal of preparing all the children in their community to be ready to learn when they start school at age five.