Building a Healthy Mississippi

Mississippi continues to make progress toward a healthier future, and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is facilitating this progress by providing the resources, funding and leadership needed to continue in our commitment to a healthier Mississippi.

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is proud to have provided grant funding to these organizations:

Building Healthy Communities

Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks Foundation

In partnership with the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks Foundation, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation provided a generous grant for a new contemporary playground with a shading system to be centrally located at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. The project also includes an outdoor classroom and pavilion and a walking trail connecting the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

Click here to learn more about the Lefleur's Bluff State Park Playground, Outdoor Classroom and Pavilion and Museum Trail.

The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation awarded a grant to The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation to fund a special needs outdoor classroom and playground at The Children’s Center for Communication and Development, located on USM’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach. The outdoor classroom and playground serves as therapy space to help children with complex disabilities achieve healthy milestones.

Town of Walnut Grove - 2020 Healthy Hometown

The Town of Walnut Grove was honored as a Mississippi "Healthy Hometown" in its inaugural year as a contender. Located in Leake County, the town has an active Healthy Hometown Committee, led by the mayor, which meets regularly and includes town leaders as well as local business, school, church, medical and other community leaders. Health and well-being are promoted on the town’s social media platforms to encourage healthy eating and exercise.

Click here to learn more about Walnut Grove's healthy initiatives.

Life Enhancement and Achievement Program (First Tee of Central Mississippi)

The First Tee is an international youth development organization introducing the game of golf to children and teens. Through in school and after school programs, the organization integrates the game of golf with life skills such as self-confidence and resilience that students can carry well beyond their school years.

Support to Food Banks Across Mississippi

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation provided generous grants to four food banks resulting in 3.2 million meals served to Mississippians in all 82 counties. Healthy nutrition is an important part of everyday well-being, and COVID-19 is amplifying the need for individuals to have access to healthy foods.

The Foundation’s partnership with Mississippi food banks ensures that food is procured, distributed to more than 400 local pantries and made available to children and adults who need nutritious foods to thrive. For all Mississippians impacted and in need of food, the Foundation is responding and connecting to those in need with grant support to Mississippi food banks.

Farmers' Markets

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation recognizes that farmers’ markets are a staple in many Mississippi communities affording families the opportunity to access fresh, local produce in the heart of their own cities and towns. Starting or expanding farmers’ markets across the state translates into increased market opportunities for farmers and increased healthy food access for families. The Foundation’s farmers’ market grant program is aligned with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s guidelines for the “Mississippi Certified Farmers’ Market” brand. In 2020, the Foundation awarded a farmers’ market grant to the Town of Walnut Grove to build a permanent location for the farmers’ market to increase visibility, expand the number of days and hours of operation, accommodate a variety of farm produce and attract a larger number of individuals and families to the market.

University and College Tobacco-Free Campus Policies Strengthened

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is providing ongoing support to Mississippi’s universities and colleges by encouraging strengthened tobacco-free policies that align with the Model Policy for a Smoke-free College/University as published by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF). The Foundation is using a tiered approach for awarding grant funds to universities and colleges willing to adopt tobacco-free policies that include 100 percent of the elements in the Model Policy. Grant funds are provided for support of general health and wellness at the university or college, excluding support of athletic teams.

Within the past year, the following universities and colleges have received grants from the Foundation to strengthen their tobacco-free policies.

Building Healthy Schools

Gilmer McLaurin Elementary School - 2020 Healthiest School

Gilmer McLaurin Elementary School in Natchez is dedicated to teaching school personnel, students and their families to value their own health. School leaders and school health council members work together to create a sustainable environment of health and well-being that reaches beyond the classroom.

DeLisle Elementary School - 2020 Healthy School

Aligned with one of the overall strategic goals established by the Pass Christian School District, DeLisle Elementary School leaders and health council members work together to maintain a healthy school environment. The school's curricula incorporates 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and students are encouraged to set fitness goals and keep activity journals.

Moselle Elementary School - 2020 Healthy School

As part of the Jones County School District, Moselle Elementary School is a role model of health and wellness for schools across Mississippi. School district leaders and school health council members are building a sustainable culture of well-being by promoting healthy nutrution and physical fitness.

St. Martin High School - 2020 Healthy School

School administrators and school health council members at St. Martin High School collaborate to ensure faculty, staff, students and their families have opportunities to participate in healthy eating and exercise activities. The school is aligned with one of the Ocean Springs School District's overarching strategic goals to create and sustain a healthy school environment.

School Garden Program

In 2020, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation awarded school garden grants to 20 Mississippi K-12 schools. School gardens offer hands-on learning as it provides opportunities for students to observe everything from seeding to harvesting to tasting, which helps them understand how healthy foods grow. Teachers are connecting the school garden with classroom curricula such as science, math, reading, culinary art, and physical education so students can learn about healthy cooking, eating and environmental sustainability.