Program aims to reduce hunger in Mississippi

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the nation, yet it also has the highest percentage of households where people can’t afford enough food for a healthy lifestyle.

It seems like a contradiction.

Yet, state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith says the two problems are intertwined with Mississippi’s high poverty rate. Thousands can’t necessarily afford nutritious food. Or, they might not know how to prepare balanced meals on tight budgets.

The nonprofit National Urban League and meat processor Tyson Foods are starting a yearlong program to battle hunger for about 19,000 people in Mississippi.

Tyson is donating 30,400 pounds of chicken, and the program aims to improve food distribution to the needy. Officials also plan events where people can learn to prepare nutritious meals with little money.