Recent University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service graduate Zack Huffman conducted data analysis on food behaviors and practices while developing a business plan to establish a mobile food market in Tallahatchie County, Miss.
Huffman was inspired to focus on food insecurity after having lived in the rural Mississippi Delta during his tenure as a corps member with Teach for America. It was while living in Sumner, Miss., that he commuted roughly 40 miles round-trip just to purchase fresh produce.
Currently 20.8 percent of Mississippian households are at risk for hunger. In Tallahatchie County, 39 percent of its adults are obese and 47 percent of the children live in poverty. Commutes for West Tallahatchie residents to retail vendors offering a readily available supply of fresh fruits and vegetables are over 20 miles one-way. In fact, for Sumner, Miss., the nearest supermarket is in an adjacent county.
After collaboration with Patrick Weems, the Director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, Huffman set out to better understand the severity of food insecurity in the area. His analysis of data previously collected by a research team from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy shed insight into the relationships between racial groups and food behaviors.
A business plan outlining the formation of the Mississippi Mobile Market was created to provide guidance on how a mobile market intervention would be the best way to bring fresh fruit and vegetable access to the residents of West Tallahatchie.