SHEA Health Equity Assessment

The SHEA Health Equity Assessment, led by Dr. Tanya Funchess and Dr. Joyee Washington from the University of Southern Mississippi, will encompass sessions covering various vital topics, including health equity, social determinants, health implicit bias, and cultural competency.

This comprehensive assessment process aims to identify and prioritize community needs by actively engaging community members. Through open conversations, participants will have the opportunity to share their concerns, questions, and opinions. The ultimate goal is to collaboratively develop an action plan that optimally serves the health needs of our community.

March 2024 – Food Pantry Distributions Information

Four separate food distributions were held in the Moss Point area on February 28, March 2, 13, and 23.

These distributions have helped a community that has a large base of both elderly seniors and young children under the age of 18. They provided a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, protein staples, as well as dry goods.

The food distributions were made possible through partnerships with MSPHI, SHEA, Feeding the Gulf Coast, and the Church of the Living God, with all food items being generously granted.

In total, these distributions served:

  • 3671 individuals
  • 1077 households
  • 968 seniors over the age of 60
  • 976 individuals under the age of 18
Food pantry picture Food pantry picture

February 2024 – Food Pantry Distributions Information

On Wednesday, February 14, 2024, a food pantry was held at the Church of the Living God, located at 6101 Dr. Martin L. King Blvd. in Moss Point, MS.

A total of 4,500 pounds of varied pre-packaged meals were available for distribution, including options such as macaroni and cheese, chili, and beef, as well as pre-packaged salads and assorted vegetables. Bakery items such as assorted breads, cakes, apple pies, muffins, and assorted cookies were also provided, along with an assortment of fruits like apples, oranges, pineapples, pears, and lemons.

The food distribution was made possible through partnerships with MSPHI, SHEA, Feeding the Gulf Coast, and the Church of the Living God, with all food items generously granted.

In total, the event served:

  • 631 individuals
  • 228 households
  • 231 seniors over the age of 60
  • 176 individuals under the age of 18

January 2024 – Food Pantry Distributions Information

On Friday, January 31, 2024, a food pantry was held at the Church of the Living God, located at 6101 Dr. Martin L. King Blvd. in Moss Point, MS.

A total of 7,984 pounds of varied pre-packaged meals were available for distribution, encompassing options such as macaroni and cheese, chicken alfredo, chicken street tacos, enchiladas, stuffed pasta shells, roasted beef roasts, beef chili, beef hamburger sliders, beef hamburger patties, as well as pre-packaged salads and assorted vegetables. Attendees also had access to assorted bakery items including various breads, cakes, apple pies, cupcakes, muffins, and assorted cookies, along with an assortment of fruits such as apples, oranges, pineapples, limes, and lemons.

During the event, a representative from the Magnolia Medical Foundation distributed 580 COVID tests and provided COVID literature.

The food distribution was made possible through partnerships with MSPHI, SHEA, Feeding the Gulf Coast, and the Church of the Living God, with all food items being generously granted.

In total, the event served:

  • 837 individuals
  • 297 households
  • 250 seniors over the age of 60
  • 260 individuals under the age of 18
Food pantry picture
Food pantry picture
Food pantry picture
Food pantry picture

On Friday, January 24, 2024, a food pantry was hosted at the Church of the Living God, located at 6101 Dr. Martin L. King Blvd. in Moss Point, MS.

A diverse assortment of pre-packaged meals, totaling 5,000 pounds, was made available for distribution. These included options like macaroni and cheese, chicken alfredo, chicken street tacos, enchiladas, stuffed pasta shells, and roasted chicken roller trays. Attendees also had access to various bakery items, including assorted slices of bread, cakes, apple and peach pies, cupcakes, muffins, and an array of cookies. Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, and pineapples were also provided.

During the event, a representative from the Magnolia Medical Foundation distributed 300 COVID tests and provided literature on COVID.

The food distribution was made possible through partnerships with MSPHI, SHEA, Feeding the Gulf Coast, and the Church of the Living God, with all food items being generously granted.

In total, the event served:

  • 771 individuals
  • 247 households
  • 246 seniors over the age of 60
  • 284 individuals under the age of 18.
Food pantry picture
Food pantry picture
Food pantry picture
Food pantry picture

Mississippi Public Health Institute & Gulf Coast Design Studio Release Black History Month Press Statement

Fighting for Health Equity for Black Women: Progress Is Far from Perfection

For the past two years, Coastal Family Health Center, the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, and Mississippi Public Health Institute have been working side-by-side—first physically and for the past nine months virtually—with local partners, advocates, and leaders on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to support and strengthen systems that directly and indirectly influence the health of African American mothers, babies, and families. Today, in honor of Black History Month, we stand in solidarity to shed light on the specific and significant health impacts of COVID-19—and the lack of investment in efforts to address health disparities—among African American women.

In 2020, the novel Coronavirus swept through our communities, and as the data clearly shows, ravaged African American communities across the country and along the Gulf Coast. And even now, as we approach the one-year mark of this global pandemic, the Coronavirus is still making headlines every day. Beneath those headlines are some very disturbing and distressing data that reveal the immense health and economic impact COVID-19 has had on African American families and communities.

The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project shows that COVID-19 is claiming the lives of African Americans at nearly twice the rate of their white counterparts. This disparity is a direct result of limited access to health care, safe employment opportunities, affordable housing, and several other issues that have plagued these communities for years. The cumulative toll of COVID-19 is weighing heavily on African American mothers, babies, and families, and it is incumbent on all of us to promote and advance equity in order to improve the health of our entire community.

Black women have been historically resilient. Ida B Wells-Barnett was born into slavery. Lost her parents to yellow fever at age 16. And became the co-owner of Memphis Free Speech and Headlight which covered incidents of racial segregation and inequality. Her perspective was not welcome in the 1890s, so her life was constantly in danger. In spite of that she kept writing, speaking, and organizing for the rest of her life. To this day, African American women are still writing, speaking, organizing, and thriving—even when the odds are stacked against them.

But that doesn’t mean the health and economic needs of African American women don’t deserve to be prioritized. It doesn’t mean that African American women, especially African American mothers, should be left to fend for themselves as the country decides whether it can afford to provide adequate support and relief.

The National Women’s Law Center recently released data indicating roughly 154,000 African American women left the workforce in December 2020, which is the largest one-month drop in their labor force size since the beginning of this pandemic. Even for the African American women who maintain employment, their jobs are often in sectors that put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. As the Economic Policy Institute notes in a recent report, African Americans are disproportionately represented in employment in grocery, convenience, and drug stores (14.2%); public transit (26%); trucking, warehouse, and postal service (18.2%); health care (17.5%); and child care and social services (19.3%). Although the work of many African American women has been deemed “essential”, their health has not.

Access to health care also continues to be a persistent problem for African American women. In a 2019 report, the National Partnership for Women and Families noted that nearly 14 percent of African American women are uninsured, compared to eight percent of white women. That number is even higher for low-income women, with nearly one in five being uninsured, and according to the report, African American women in the South have the lowest rates of health insurance coverage among their peers across the country. Sadly, African American women of reproductive age have the biggest coverage disparity, which makes it difficult to have a healthy pregnancy.

In summary, we have a lot of work to do, and the reality is that it will take much more than 28 days of historical reflection or a few conversations about equity to make meaningful change. When citizens, community organizations, and health care institutions work together to share information and resources, coordinate activities, collaborate on solutions and build a network of support, we can make a measurable difference for African American women, babies, and families. By advocating for and creating environments that are healthy, equitable, and understanding, we can ensure African American women and their families have the resources, opportunities, and support they need to live full, healthy lives.

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About the Mississippi Public Health Institute
MSPHI is a nonprofit entity established in 2011 to protect and improve the health and well-being of Mississippians, serving as a partner and convener to promote health, improve outcomes and encourage innovations in health systems. We cultivate partnerships aimed at program innovation, health resources, education, applied research, and policy development.

About the Gluf Coast Community Design Studio
GCCDS is a professional service and outreach program of Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art + Design. GCCDS works through close, pragmatic partnerships with local organizations and communities in and beyond the three Mississippi’s coastal counties, putting professional expertise to work in order to shape vibrant and resilient Gulf Coast communities.

Mississippi Public Health Institute Encourages Pregnant Women and Breastfeeding Mothers in Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison Counties to Take Steps to Avoid Infection

Media Contacts:
Tennille Collins, Mississippi Public Health Institute, tcollins@msphi.org, (601) 398-4406
Elaina Jackson, Fahrenheit Creative Group, LLC, elaina@fcgworks.com, (601) 371-8003

Partner Organizations Provide Coronavirus (COVID-19) to Recommend Safety Measures for Pregnant Women and Breastfeeding Mothers on Website and Social Media

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Public Health Institute (MSPHI), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage in partnerships and activities that improve Mississippi’s health, is encouraging pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties to take measure to protect themselves and their babies during the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts are part of the organization’s collaborative SHEA (Sharing Health Education & Awareness) campaign, which is the public education and awareness component of a multi-year effort to increase breastfeeding rates among African American women and improve overall health along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women and breastfeeding can protect themselves from COVID-19 by taking the same steps as the general public to avoid infection, which include:

  • Covering your cough (using your elbow is a good technique)
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Washing your hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoiding social gatherings of 10 or more people

Breastfeeding mothers with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or are showing symptoms should take extra precautions, including:

  • Washing your hands before touching the infant
  • Wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast
  • Washing your hands before touching any breast pump or bottle parts
  • Following recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use, if feeding with a manual or electric breast pump
  • Considering having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant

“We don’t currently know if or how COVID-19 may affect pregnant women and babies, which is why we are encouraging women to take extra precautions to protect their health and the health of their child,” said Tennille Collins, program manager at MSPHI. “Through social distancing, handwashing, and other measures, we can help ensure mothers, babies, and families are healthy and safe.”

For the most current information on COVID-19, visit the MSDH website at www.msdh.ms.gov.  For more information on MSPHI, visit www.msphi.org.

Mississippi Public Health Institute Launches Statewide Fellowship Program to Promote Diversity and Community Engagement in Public Health Research

Media Contacts:
Jalisia Manning, Fahrenheit Creative Group, LLC, jalisia@fcgworks.com, (601) 371-8003
Tennille Collins, Mississippi Public Health Institute, tcollins@msphi.org, (601) 398-4406

African American Women from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Mississippi Delta Participating in MSPHI’s Community Research Fellows Training Program

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Public Health Institute (MSPHI), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage in partnerships and activities that improve Mississippi’s health, recently launched the Community Research Fellows Training (CRFT) program, an initiative focused on promoting and advancing the inclusion of underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, in the public health research process. The fellowship training program is part of a multi-year effort to improve the health of African-American mothers, babies, and families.

“Research and community engagement are two critical elements of effective public health efforts,” said Tennille Collins, project manager at MSPHI. “This fellowship program is an opportunity for participants to gain valuable knowledge and skills and for us to get more clear and precise insights on the impact of our initiatives.”

A total of 17 African American women are participating in the CRFT program, including Arreal Bishop (Biloxi); Caretta Brown (Ocean Springs); Deanna Campbell (Biloxi); Alisha Coleman (Ocean Springs); Terra Dickey (Biloxi); Janine Harges (D’Iberville); Tenisha Hasan (D’Iberville); Tyesha Hartley (D’Iberville); Aleshia Jones (Gulfport); Almedia Johnson (Greenville); Tia Magee (Ocean Springs); Anndrea McGill (Pascagoula); Kathy Stafford (Ocean Springs); and Shayla Taylor (Biloxi).

“We are excited to learn with and from this group and look forward to supporting their longer-term efforts to improve public health in their communities,” said Collins. During the 12-week program, participants will engage and interact with community leaders, public health professionals, and researchers to discuss strategies and tactics to improve health in their communities. At the completion of the program, participants will be encouraged to join a local community-based coalition to build on this learning experience.

For more information on the CRFT program, contact Tennille Collins at tcollins@msphi.org or (601) 398-4406. For more information on MSPHI, visit www.msphi.org.

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About the Mississippi Public Health Institute
MSPHI is a nonprofit entity established in 2011 to protect and improve the health and well-being of Mississippians, serving as a partner and convener to promote health, improve outcomes and encourage innovations in health systems. We cultivate partnerships aimed at program innovation, health resources, education, applied research, and policy development.

Current COVID-19 Pandemic Presents Another Potential Barrier to Breastfeeding for Women on the Gulf Coast

Social stigma. Lack of employer support. Cultural norms. There are several reasons that contribute to Mississippi’s low breastfeeding rate—the lowest in the nation. Many of these factors are also strong contributors to the historically low rate of breastfeeding among African American mothers. The SHEA (Sharing Health Education & Awareness) campaign, which was launched late last year, has focused on increasing breastfeeding rates, promoting tobacco cessation, and encouraging active living with an ultimate goal of improving health of African American families, mothers, and babies.

Then, the coronavirus ruptured the social and economic foundation for thousands of women and families on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, adding yet another barrier to breastfeeding for many mothers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, African American women are overrepresented in low-wage service jobs—the types of jobs that were among the first to be eliminated once COVID-19 began rapidly spreading in Mississippi communities.

Fortunately, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will provide some temporary relief for mothers whose current unemployment can be traced back to COVID-19. However, the stress, anxiety, and pressure many of these women face might make them less likely to consider initiating breastfeeding—a process that can be stress-inducing for some women. In addition, mothers working low-wage jobs often do not have health insurance to cover the cost of supplies and equipment like breast pumps. Even the economic assistance provided by the CARES Act cannot provide enough financial support for many women to get the supplies they need to sustain breastfeeding for at least the first six months—the amount of time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For those mothers who may have adequate health insurance and are able to work from home, the closures of schools and child care facilities have created an additional set of daily responsibilities. Finding the time and privacy to breastfeed or pump may prove more challenging when mothers are standing in as teachers, chefs, and activity planners.

Despite all of these traditional and unexpected barriers to breastfeeding, we can improve breastfeeding rates among African American women on the Gulf Coast by creating a network of resources and support that provides tools and information mothers need to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their families. Although we have to maintain our social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we can continue to uplift, encourage, and support mothers and ensure they all have the information and resources they need to be healthy right now and well into the future. When our communities work together to coordinate activities, collaborate on solutions, and build a network of support, we can make a measurable and meaningful difference in the health of African American families, mothers, and babies—and in the health of everyone on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

For more information on the SHEA campaign and valuable tips on breastfeeding, visit www.sheahealth.org.

Mississippi Public Health Institute and Feeding the Gulf Coast Provide Produce and Dry Goods to More than 500 Gulf Coast Families

Media Contacts:
Elaina Jackson, Fahrenheit Creative Group, LLC, elaina@fcgworks.com, (601) 371-8003
Tennille Collins, Mississippi Public Health Institute, tcollins@msphi.org, (601) 398-4406

Organizations work together to provide food to individuals and families affected by COVID-19 pandemic

BILOXI, Miss. – Today the Mississippi Public Health Institute (MSPHI) and Feeding the Gulf Coast (FGC) distributed fresh produce and dry goods to 500 individuals and families on the Mississippi Gulf at First Baptist Church of Biloxi. The organizations worked to increase the number of families they were able to serve and the types of food they supplied in light of the significant economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“Our service area is experiencing an influx of need from those impacted by COVID-19,” said Dan Emery, newly appointed president and CEO for Feeding the Gulf Coast. “School closures and local job layoffs are leading to an unprecedented need for those who typically may not experience food insecurity. While those that struggle on a daily basis are now in an even more critical situation, compounded by the economic stress the COVID-19 virus has created in our communities.”

The food distribution is part of collaborative multifaceted efforts to support the development of stronger, healthier families across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. MSPHI is specifically working with several partners in Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison Counties, including Coastal Family Health Center and the Mississippi State University Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, to promote health and wellness among African American mothers, babies, and families, including a public education campaign called SHEA (Sharing Health Education & Awareness).

“Ensuring Gulf Coast families have access to fresh and healthy foods is a critical part of improving overall health in these communities, and that’s why we have partnered closely with Feeding the Gulf Coast on this effort,” said Tennille Collins, program manager at MSPHI. “Through two events, we have provided produce and dry goods to nearly one thousand families along the Gulf Coast, but we recognize we still have much more work to do.”

One in five Mississippians struggles with hunger, and Mississippi has had the highest rate of food insecurity in the country for eight consecutive years, according to data from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some very particular economic disruptions for families of the Gulf Coast, which may increase the level of food insecurity in communities for months to come.

“Feeding the Gulf Coast is no stranger to working through times of crisis to assist the most vulnerable in our community. Last year, the food bank served the community during the partial government shutdown,” said Emery. “During times like these we see an increased need among people who do not typically face hunger. The threat of coronavirus adds even more pressure to the already strained finances of those we serve and so many more. The food bank remains a critical lifeline to anyone who is struggling with hunger, especially during an unforeseen crisis.”

MSPHI and its partners are also working with community organizations to increase the rate of breastfeeding among mothers in Gulf Coast communities, especially among African American mothers. “Breastmilk has all of the nutrients babies need for healthy growth and development,” said Collins. “However, we know many mothers have anxiety and stress that make it more challenging to breastfeed. We hope we can alleviate some of that anxiety and stress through this event, enabling mothers to concentrate on the health and well-being of their families and themselves.”

For more information on the SHEA campaign and tips on breastfeeding, tobacco cessation, and active living, visit www.sheahealth.org or contact Tennille Collins at tcollins@msphi.org. For more information on Feeding the Gulf Coast, including opportunities to volunteer, visit www.feedingthegulfcoast.org.

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About the Mississippi Public Health Institute
MSPHI is a nonprofit entity established in 2011 to protect and improve the health and well-being of Mississippians, serving as a partner and convener to promote health, improve outcomes and encourage innovations in health systems. We cultivate partnerships aimed at program innovation, health resources, education, applied research, and policy development.

About Feeding the Gulf Coast
Feeding the Gulf Coast, formerly Bay Area Food Bank, serves a 24-county area spanning south Alabama, south Mississippi and the Panhandle of Florida. Feeding the Gulf Coast is committed to ending hunger in the communities we serve, where at least one in six people struggle with chronic hunger. Feeding the Gulf Coast operates multiple hunger-relief and nutrition programs, including Summer Meals, Afterschool Meal, Backpack, Disaster Relief, Mobile Pantry and Produce Drop Distributions, Nutrition Education, and SNAP Outreach to help address food insecurity.

In 2018, the food bank distributed over 22 million meals to over 400 partner agencies—food pantries, soup kitchens, and other non-profit hunger relief organizations. Since its founding, Feeding the Gulf Coast has distributed more than 260 million pounds of food.

Feeding the Gulf Coast is a United Way member agency and a member of Feeding America.
Our vision is a hunger-free Central Gulf Coast.