More than 100 law students have volunteered with the Delta Project by providing pro bono legal assistance and policy analysis for nonprofit, for-profit, and governmental clients in the Delta. MDP regularly considers new assignments to which it can contribute. Current and past MDP projects have focused on the following issue areas:
- Current Project Issue Areas
- Food Justice: The Food Justice team is conducting policy and legal research on the efficacy of and the implementation routes for a “food is medicine” state initiative. In the context of Mississippi, a Food is Medicine initiative would look to influence or mandate payers (insurance providers), providers (hospitals), and state agencies to incentivize MS citizens to make healthier dietary decisions. This work will include but not be limited to legislative interviews, analysis of analogous state policy movements, and research on MS statutory landscape for implementing food is medicine programs.
- Economic Justice: The Economic Justice Initiative is starting in Fall 2021. The economic justice team will work with the Center for Health law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School to advance policies surrounding debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
- Reproductive Justice: The Reproductive Justice Initiative began in Spring 2019 with the goal of advancing reproductive choice for all Mississippians. Last year, the team began a project with a partner on the ground in Mississippi to assist teenagers navigating the judicial bypass system, which allows teens to obtain abortions without parental consent through court approval. We’re looking forward to continuing that work this year, and to taking on new projects that will allow us provide support to people in the region so that they can freely make decisions about their bodies, their families, and their futures.
- Environmental Justice: The Environmental Justice Initiative began in Fall 2017, working with Cooperation Jackson to develop a Zero Waste policy for Jackson, MS, to help the City of Jackson to manage its waste disposal in a sustainable way. Now, the team works with partners in the Delta to help Mississippians understand and advocate for their rights to clean drinking water and effective wastewater systems.
- Past Project Issue Areas
- Criminal Justice
- Farmers Markets and Food Access
- Public Health
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- Financial Services Access
- Local leadership capacity building
Substantive student work is overseen by Emily Broad Leib ’08, who is Director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and Associate Director of the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, and by Emma Scott ’16, a Clinical Instructor at the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. Additionally, student work will be supported by the Delta Fellow, a law graduate hosted by the Center for Population Studies (CPS) at University of Mississippi who works in collaboration with the Delta Directions Consortium. The next Delta Fellow will begin serving in Fall 2020.
Delta Directions Consortium (DDC) is the Delta Project’s main partner in the region. DDC is an interdisciplinary group of individuals from academic institutions and foundations that collaborate to create transformational change in the Mississippi Delta region by improving public health and promoting economic development. While HLS Delta Project students primarily work from the HLS campus in Cambridge, MA, project members travel to the Delta during school breaks. Because of these geographic constraints, the Delta Project relies on the DDC and other local partners to identify and manage programs while HLS students provide crucial support.