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Health and wellness fair connects

employers to health resources


Organizers hope state’s employers will encourage healthy habits among employees,
drive ‘significant change’ in Mississippi’s health rankings
Story by Isabelle Altman
ialtman@cdispatch.com

W
hen Christie
Lawrence learned
Mississippi Busi-
ness Group on Health had not
hosted events for employers in
northern Mississippi, she want-
ed to change that.
The president of Starkville-
based consulting firm Surge
Advisors had worked with MS-
BGH, putting on resource fairs
and seminars in Jackson and
on the coast to help employers
implement healthy habits in the
workplace and connect with
businesses in the health and
wellness industry. Now, she
wanted to give access to those
same resources to Golden Trian-
gle businesses.
“The whole focus of the
Mississippi Business Group on
Health is really just trying to
rally employers to help drive
change,” Lawrence said. “[...]
To learn more about health and
wellness, because you can do Photos courtesy Michael Stewart (EMCC)
a lot with your health benefits, Representatives from area businesses network at the first Golden Triangle Health and Wellness Resource Fair at the Communiversity
the way the plan is set up, to on East Mississippi Community College’s campus last October. The fair allowed employers in Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Clay counties to
foster and encourage more pre- get an idea of health and wellness businesses and resources in the area they could partner with to encourage healthy habits among
vention, more focus on personal employees. Organizers Christie Lawrence of Surge Advisors in Starkville and Adrienne Morris of the Golden Triangle Human Resource
accountability.” Association both said they hope to organize another such fair this year. Below: Airmen from the Columbus Air Force Base speak with
Lawrence and representa- representatives at the fair.
tives from MSBGH joined Gold-
en Triangle Human Resource health problems plaguing Mis-
Association last October to sissippi, like obesity, diabetes
host the area’s first Health and and heart disease.
Wellness Resource Fair at the “It’s all about, ‘how do you
Communiversity on East Mis- provide better quality but also
sissippi Community College’s reduce the cost?’” Lawrence
campus. Lawrence said doz- said. “[...] The employers are
ens of employers attended the key, because their health benefit
event, where they sat through plan basically helps drive em-
panel discussions and browsed ployee behavior.”
more than 50 exhibits from area Employers who filled out an
health care centers, gyms, yoga exit survey after the fair said
studios and more. they were surprised at the num-
“The participants upon arriv- ber of health resources in the
al could visit the various tables area. More than 85 percent said
and get information from the they would attend the fair again
vendors directly,” said GTHRA in 2020, while the rest said they
President Adrienne Morris, “and would at least consider it.
be able to network, exchange For Charles Sylvest, educa-
contact information, find out tion pastor at Fairview Baptist
what products, what resources Church in Columbus, the fair
they had available and what was a good reminder of ways to
they could provide for their stay active at work. In particu-
employees.” lar, he remembered a panel by
In a state that ranks 49th a Mississippi State University
in health care, Lawrence said Ph.D. student who showed practice what we’ve been some exercises that we could san Hadaway, human resources
it’s important to help business them different exercises people preaching,’” Sylvest said. “She use in our offices.” manager at West Point-based
representatives find ways to can do at their desks. got up and (demonstrated) Another panel on the nega- trucking company Southern Ion-
encourage healthy habits among “She said, ‘Get up out of different sets of stretching. […] tive health effects of sitting too ics. “Sitting disease” stuck out in
employees that could prevent your chairs. We’re going to So we physically went through much had a similar effect on Su- See FAIR, 2
2 SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2020 The Dispatch • www.cdispatch.com HEALTH & WELLNESS

How to provide your children with healthy meals on a tight budget


Story by Yue Stella Yu according to Feeding America,
syu@cdispatch.com a national food bank network. Feeding programs
The rates remained above 20

O
n a Thursday morn- percent among all of Clay (26.6), available in the Golden
ing, Jane Scott picks
up a package of
Lowndes (23.1) and Oktibbeha Triangle area
(20.2) counties. As of 2017, one
chicken from the freezer. She in five Mississippians was strug- n USDA-approved sum-
places it next to a brown bag gling with hunger. One in four mer meal sites
full of food and then hands it to children was food insecure. Varying times and locations
the family waiting at the win- Many children rely on their www.fns.usda.gov/meal-
dow, free of charge. school meals under the National s4kids
Scott is the president of School Breakfast and Lunch
Project Homestead in West programs administered by the n Food pantries in all
Point — a food pantry offering U.S. Department of Agriculture Mississippi counties
food to families in need. The (USDA), but when school is out, myresources.mdhs.ms.gov/
program mostly enrolls families students in need often have to MRProviderServices/Index-
eligible for the state Supplemen- turn to summer meal sites to ?service=Food
tal Nutrition Assistance Program stay fed. School districts and Photo by Yue Stella Yu/Dispatch Staff
Jim Chandler, volunteer at Project Homestead, delivers two brown n Project Homestead,
(SNAP) benefits and provides eligible groups can apply to
bags full of food to a family waiting outside the window. West Point
each family with a month’s run those sites following USDA 9-11 a.m., Tuesdays and
worth of groceries based on standards and be reimbursed by said the organization partners two- to three-ounce serving.”
Thursdays
their family size. Many of those the agency. with the Mississippi Food Gibson said the protein com-
222 Mary Holmes Drive,
families have children. More than 850 sites in Network, a Jackson-based food ponent, such as a chicken breast
West Point
“We have 44 kids […] from Mississippi were providing US- bank that provides local food or hamburger patty, should be
Jane Scott, 662-418-1020
zero to five years old,” she said. DA-approved feeding programs pantries with products at a low- the main dish of a meal, and the
“We have 188 children from six as of May 26. Only 43 sites er cost or for free. Gibson said proper size is about the palm n YMCA, Columbus
to 18.” were located in the Golden Tri- the organization plans to offer of the children’s hands. Fruits No set time or location yet
Project Homestead is one angle area and only 26 of them summer meals during June and and vegetables, she said, should 602 2nd Avenue North,
of many organizations in the were still running at that time. July for school-aged children, be about three-fourths of the Columbus
Golden Triangle area that help Where summer meal sites are providing each child with five protein size. www.columbus-ymca.com/
feed low-income families. The lacking, community initiatives, lunch meals once a week. The “Your grain […] could be a
need for those feeding programs such as Project Homestead, site served roughly 60 kids a roll on the side or it could come n Golden Triangle Boys
is particularly evident in Missis- are stepping up to fill the void. day and about 300 meals a as a tortilla you had your chick- and Girls Club
sippi, where the statewide child Other regional groups also are week last year. en wrapped in,” she said. No set time or location yet
food insecurity rate hovered planning to offer free grab-and- Ron Thornton, CEO of the Parents should also encour- 1815 14th Avenue North,
at 22.9 percent — higher than go meals amid the pandemic. Golden Triangle Boys and Girls age water drinking instead of Columbus
most other states — in 2017, the Stephanie Gibson, Christian Club, said the organization sugary drinks or carbohydrates 662-244-7090
latest when data is available, mission director at the YMCA, plans to serve summer meals and eating green vegetables 911 Lynn Lane, Starkville
but has yet set a date to reopen. instead of starch. 662-615-9980
The Columbus location could “This is the most unhealthy 634 East West Brook, West
serve roughly 300 meals each thing that you can do for a Point
for its breakfast and lunch pro- growing child,” she said. “It 662-418-7285
grams. The Starkville and West will fill them quickly. Kids love www.bgcgoldentri.org/
Point locations would serve 100 them, but it’s not body nutrition
to 200 meals for each program. for their brain, for their growing right now,” Hill said, “that might
organs.” be something the parents could
repurpose at dinner time. May-
Balanced diet
A balanced meal should Eat healthy within a tight be steam those or put them on
the salad for everybody.”
include five components — budget For Gibson, parents should
grain, protein, dairy, fruits and For many cash-strapped
incorporate vital nutrition into
vegetables — which are vital for families, however, a healthy
children’s growth, said Ginny their meals whenever they can.
diet can be costly. At Project
Hill, a licensed dietitian and Canned vegetables, although
Homestead, Scott said she has
child nutrition director at the not as nutritious as fresh pro-
seen families who rely on SNAP
Starkville-Oktibbeha Consol- benefits as low as $14 to $20 a duce, can come at a lower cost.
idated School District. The month. “Try at least once a day to
district could offer about 1,700 “Good Lord, you can’t buy get a palm-sized protein into
breakfasts and 1,700 lunches a milk and bread,” she said. “I your child,” she said. “And then
month during the summer, she don’t have any idea on how try to complement it [with]
said. The portion needs to be they do that.” something green.”
balanced, too. To design a healthy diet for Thornton said families can
“We want to make sure they their kids, Hill said families with also consider growing their own
have good portion control,” a tight budget should take ad- food.
she said. “If you were to think vantage of the feeding programs “Now is a good time for
about how much meat for your and repurpose some ingredients gardening,” he said. “(It can)
Photo by Yue Stella Yu/Dispatch Staff
Jane Scott, president of Project Homestead in West Point, helps student (per serving), you could for later use. get you some fresh (products),
volunteers at the food pantry prepare bags of groceries to the think about the size of a deck “Even though their child get you out and do something
families that come looking on a Thursday morning. of cards, that would be about a might not eat the raw carrots different.”

Fair
Continued from Page 1
her mind particularly because truck businesses could partner with health
drivers spend so much time sitting in care facilities or gyms to provide
their vehicles. discounted memberships and other
“If you’re in a sedentary position or “perks” for employees.
you’re a truck driver, you’re seated at They plan on holding another such
work, let’s say eight to 10 hours a day,” fair this fall, with a few changes. In
she said. “And then people go home particular, Lawrence wants to hold the
and are seated watching TV or eating panels and exhibits at different times,
dinner.” while Morris said she wants to begin
Hadaway said she used some of the spreading the word about the event ear-
information and tips from the panels lier, so more area businesses sign up.
she viewed in her “Wellness Wednes- They added the COVID-19 pandemic
day” memos she sends employees every will affect how employers and health
week. The whole fair impressed her so care professionals think about health
much she became a member of MSB- benefits.
GH to gain access to their “toolbox” of “The next conversation will definitely
resources. be, after COVID-19 is over with, how
“My responsibility is to make sure do you now view your health insurance
that my employees have the best bene- programs or different wellness programs
fits and support and resources possible that you offer to employees?” Morris
Photo courtesy Michael Stewart (EMCC)
to be able to excel at their jobs,” she said. “Will you keep the same thing, or Representatives from area businesses network at the first Golden Triangle Health
said. “And wellness […] allows people are you going to try to change it?” and Wellness Resource Fair at the Communiversity on East Mississippi Community
to excel. The healthier you are, the Lawrence believes Mississippi will College’s campus last October. Amy Billingsley speaks with a dental representative.
further you’ll go.” see renewed interest in wellness and
Lawrence and Morris also empha- preventing health issues before they “If the employers got together and based on the interactions that I’ve had
sized networking opportunities avail- occur — but employers are absolutely worked collaboratively, they could with health care providers, they’re will-
able to the fair’s attendees, suggesting critical in supporting that interest. drive significant change,” she said. “And ing to work with them.”
HEALTH & WELLNESS The Dispatch • www.cdispatch.com SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2020 3

Locally produced food, goods are witnessing “healthy” growth


Story by Slim Smith forts, few things have spiked the interest
ssmith@cdispatch.com in the self-sustaining lifestyle Buehler has
preached than COVID-19.

I
n 1918, America faced its greatest “I’ve seen more gardens here in the
pandemic, the Spanish Flu outbreak, Starkville area this spring than I have in
which ultimately claimed 600,000 20 years,” Buehler said. “With the shelter
lives in the U.S. Yet while the nation’s at home orders, people were home more
understanding of viruses at the time left and had more time to learn the things
the nation vulnerable, in one sense it was that we’ve been teaching for years.”
better equipped for a public health crisis Buehler’s mission is not only to help
than the COVID-19 virus we face today. Mississippians produce more of the foods
Back then, in an era before refriger- and products they consume, but develop
ated trucks and interstate highways, the a healthier lifestyle in the process.
food supply was almost exclusively local- “I think because of the coronavirus,
ly-produced. That was especially true in people are more aware of the food
rural areas. People of that era knew how chain, where things are coming from.
to grow their own food, sew their own What they are discovering is the clos-
clothes and provide for themselves other er our food supply is to us, the more
necessities not readily available in their simplified it is. And when you grow your
community. own food, you know what’s in it. I think
One of the challenges of COVID-19 that appeals to a lot of people. They’re
has been to the nation’s food supply, becoming more aware.”
which has struggled with production and For some, it goes beyond growing Photo by Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
transportation to meet the demands of their own healthy food to meeting a Eliza Boyd has 15 different varieties of soaps and three kinds of bath bombs, which
the public. specific need and even turning it into a she sells each Saturday at the Starkville Community Market.
For more than a dozen years, Alison business venture. Eliza Boyd is a great
Buehler of Starkville has been on a cru- example of that. in Columbus and Starkville and even views it as more or less a hobby.
sade to help Mississippians reclaim those Boyd, 15, lives near Starkville at her though she’s learned volumes about how “It’s a fun hobby to have,” she said.
lost skills, most recently as director of the family’s eight-acre farmstead. The family to run and operate a business, she still “And it’s a way to be creative.”
Homestead Education Center, which has of eight grows their own fruits and veg-
been providing workshops, exhibitions etables, harvests eggs from their chick-
and seminars since 2012. For all those ef- ens and has adopted a self-sustaining
lifestyle. A year ago, Eliza added her own
wrinkle.
“I was reading about goat milk,” she
said. “One of the things I read said that
goat’s milk was very good in treating
eczema. My little sister had eczema
pretty bad. So that’s when I got the idea.
My dad got me a book about goat’s milk
and I did a ton of research. I decided to
try it..”
Boyd bought a pair of goats with her
own money and began producing goat
milk soap. At the time, helping her sister
was the main motivation. Now, a year
later, it’s progressed beyond that.
“It’s a pretty complicated process and
it’s not cheap to make,” she said. “In
addition to lye and goats milk you have a
lot of different oils that are used. Each oil
has its own properties and uses. It’s a lot
of chemistry and a lot of calculations just
getting the formula right. Too much lye
and it burns the skin. Too little and you
have liquid soap. If you don’t have the
right amount of an oil, you don’t get the
benefit of it. It took a lot of time to get it
just right.”
Photo by Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
The actual soap-making takes about
Eliza Boyd originally started making goat an hour, but the soap requires six to eight
milk soap a year ago, because she had weeks to cure and set up enough to be
read it soothed eczema and her seven- cut into individual bars.
year-old sister has eczema. She sells her soap at farmers markets
4 SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2020 The Dispatch • www.cdispatch.com HEALTH & WELLNESS

Local gyms and trainers adapting


fitness programs to quarantine, while
others are falling by the wayside
Story by Ben Portnoy
bportnoy@cdispatch.com

S
TARKVILLE — Cyn-
thia Mutch readily
admits she’s no
internet wizard, but as the
Marketing and Member-
ship Director at the Frank
P. Phillips Memorial YMCA
in Columbus, Mutch has
adapted to her new role
as the czar of the gym’s
highly-successful YouTube
workout channel.
“I’m kind of new to this,
so I have to kind of look,
but there’s some analytics
here that I can access if I
Photo by Ben Portnoy/Dispatch Staff
remember where they are,” Salem Gibson records a video for the Frank P. Phillips
she said through a laugh. YMCA’s YouTube page.
Moving toward more
they were really thankful future, the pandemic hasn’t
online content, the Colum-
for us so we’ve been mak- been easy on others in the
bus YMCA and other local
ing more videos.” fitness business. Shawn
fitness entities have moved
Patricia Cartwright, the Berry — the owner of Any-
increasingly more digital
owner and operator of Get time Fitness in Columbus
in an effort to reach their
Right With Cartwright in — has seen a mass exodus
normal clientele as the
Starkville, has also moved of employees as his doors
COVID-19 pandemic has
her practice increasingly have had to remain closed
put restrictions on gyms online as her ability to in recent weeks. Working
across the state. Having meet with clients in home in a more corporate struc-
created the site in recent gyms and other areas has ture, Anytime Fitness has
years, Mutch said it re- become more and more offered some online tools
mained relatively dormant difficult. at a more national level,
until the pandemic hit, but Cartwright said she but with few employees on
with gyms shuttered due saw an initial lull in her the ground in Columbus,
to Mississippi’s “shelter business with the transition Berry said it will be difficult
in place” ordinances, the to more virtual workouts, to maintain the previous
channel offered a per- client numbers have practice he had running.
fect way for the YMCA’s stabilized as users grow “We wanted to do
trainers to reach those more accustomed to her our part and try and curb
who normally attend their practices. (coronavirus) and hopefully
workout classes or those “It’s been very uncer- get rid of it,” he said of
who might be looking into tain and kind of crazy, but closing his doors initially.
a membership. I was able to transition “But bottom-line is, it’s
Among those activities pretty seamlessly to online killing our business.”
listed on the gym’s You- training, also known as While some gyms
Tube page are legs and abs virtual training,” she told will face hardships in
workouts, seated fitness The Dispatch. “I’ve done reopening, those that
options and a 20-minute this with my classes; I’ve have embraced the digital
morning stretch. done this with my personal have seemingly found a
“What we’ve found is training clients and then new way to reach current
the videos are getting a my already online clients and future members, one
lot of views and a lot of who do not live in the YouTube channel or online
response,” Mutch said, Starkville area, things were transition at a time.
referring to the over 500 unchanged for them.” “Now that we’re open,
views the site has received. While Cartwright and we don’t want to just stop,”
“People were commenting the YMCA have moved Mutch said. “We want to
and saying they were using digital and anticipate con- continue uploading videos
the videos everyday and tinuing to do so into the to our YouTube channel.”

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