Via Mississippi Delta Project
By Colin Ross, Harvard Mississippi Delta Project Co-Chair, HLS ‘16
On the evening of November 18th, the students and faculty of the Harvard University community came together for the 7th annual Delta Celebration—a chance to share appreciation for the beauty and culture of the region, and to exchange insights about ways to help confront its challenges. Students and faculty of the Harvard Law School and School of Public Health were joined by special guest speaker Professor John Green, the Director of the Center on Population Studies at the University of Mississippi. HLS Dean Martha Minow also took the time to attend and give remarks.
The Delta region continues to face a range of economic, social, and health challenges, from poverty to obesity to unemployment. Since its inception, the Food Law and Policy Clinic has been committed to helping address these challenges, including supervising the student practice organization, the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project. At the event, the leaders of the Delta Project presented about their team’s efforts to study and address these challenges for clients in Mississippi. These include:
- The Food Policy Initiative is working to get healthier, local food into Mississippi’s schools. The team members are working with the state’s burgeoning farm-to-school network to study what policies could further support the growth of farm to school programs in Mississippi;
- The Health Initiative is doing advocacy work to support a bill in the Mississippi legislature to encourage breast-feeding, and spread the health and economic benefits the practice brings;
- The Economic Development Initiative is studying the ways grant funding works in the region and how it might be streamlined; and
- The Child & Youth Initiative is tackling a delicate but critical issue: the obstacles to contraceptive access in Mississippi and how reducing them could end the state’s high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Dean Minow praised these efforts and the overall commitment to the Delta as a concrete example of students carrying out the HLS mission to advance justice in society.