Hello Body Walkers!
Last Thursday was a really great day for me. I got to go represent Body Walk at the Summer Food Service Program Kick-off! (Whew, that’s a mouthful.) I’m sure you are wondering what the Summer Food Service Program is, right?
I’m going to make it easy for all of us and quote directly from the program I received.
“The Summer Food Service Program is an initiative of USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to provide healthy meals to school-age children in districts where 50% or more of the child population qualifies for free or reduced meals. This program is managed by the MS Dept. of Education Office of Healthy Schools (MDE OHS) and allows sponsors to set up sites across Mississippi to provide meals and other activities at a maximum of twice daily. Whether it is in a school, mobile site, low-income housing unit, or religious organization, SFSP works to guarantee children living in poverty are able to access healthy food during the summer vacation months.”
This is HUGE Body Walkers! Body Walk teaches the importance of making healthy food choices to K-5th grade children. How can they do that if their food resources are limited, or worse, not even there? By providing healthy food to these children, they can exercise the lessons they learned in Body Walk. Of course, not all the children who will benefit from this program have gotten to see Body Walk, but some have. Of all the schools Body Walk sees during the course of the year, on average, 80% of them have a student population where 50% or more of the students receive free or reduced breakfast and lunches.
Now, let’s talk about the speakers and the messages they shared yesterday. This event was at the MS State Capital. It was supposed to be on the south lawn, but the rain forced us inside? Have you been to the capital? It is beautiful. You can take tours (link needed) and learn more about it. Ok, on to the speakers.
First up was Todd Ivey, Deputy State Superintendent for Operations; MS Dept. of Education. Mr. Ivey really set the tone by welcoming everyone and explaining some about what the SFSP is and who it is trying to help.
Next up was Aaron Sisk, Vice President of Operations; Magnolia Health Plan. I have included links here, please go read more about Magnolia Health. He talked some about his company and how invested they are in the health of our young people. I confess, at the beginning of the day, I knew nothing about Magnolia Health. I got to learn a lot later in the day, read on down to find out what I learned. (Or click the link, whatever makes you happy :).
Next up was Audry Rowe. Ms. Rowe is an Administrator for USDA Food and Nutrition Services. I really enjoyed hearing Ms. Rowe speak. She was passionate about her goals to increase the number of children, not just in MS, but all across the country, who receive this much needed summer meal assistance. She talked about where she had been so far and the people she is connecting with to help her achieve the goal. She really got the crowd fired up with her passion and vision.
After her was the reading of Governor Phil Bryant’s Summer Food Service Proclamation. This was nice as it shows the state’s commitment to this issue. Part of the proclamation, stated that the week of June 2-6 is going to be SFSP week. I expect there will be a push in the news and social media during this week to let people know what’s available and why it is needed.
The last main speaker was Lenora Phillips, Director of CACFP/SFSP, MS Dept. of Education, and Office of Child Nutrition. She told us about what specifically is happening in MS to bring this program to life and make it work. She showed us the posters that are being distributed across the state. She told us people will be able to access the resources at schools, at day care centers, at churches, at community centers, and more. MS is making a huge push during SFSP week and she wants us all to spread the word. She was vibrant in her enthusiasm.
Last to speak was Benjamin Russell, Communications Director, and Public Policy Center of MS, who offered the closing remarks.
I’m sure you are wondering, was that it? Was that the whole day? NO. There was more. After all the speakers, we when to the first floor where many people had tables set up with handouts, posters, and loads of information. I got to visit several of the tables.
I learned that Magnolia Health “is a long-term solution to help the state of Mississippi enhance care for Medicaid recipients while most effectively managing Medicaid funds. [Magnolia is] a physician-driven, Mississippi-based Medicaid Coordinated Care Organization (CCO)…” I had actually heard about similar services on National Public Radio, in relation to another company. I am so glad MS has something similar.
I also got to speak to Nancy Roman and Stephanie Yow. They both work for the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. They were there talking about their program fueluptoplay60. The fuel up to play program is a great compliment to the teachings of Body Walk. The BW lessons teach low-fat milk is a great beverage choice in the brain stations (part of a healthy breakfast), the stomach station (part of a healthy meal), and the bone station(a great way to get calcium.) I enjoyed talking to them and sharing how Body Walk teaches a fueled up body is better able to learn and play.
After touring the tables, it was time to leave. I hope you are excited about SFSP in MS and if you know of children who would really benefit from access to healthy meals, please share this information with their caretaker.