Grant awarded to teach healthy lifestyle in Mississippi County

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) –A new program kicking off in Mississippi County is called "Body and Soul".  The program was created by the National Cancer Institute for African American churches.  The church works within the community to spread the word on eating healthy.

"We're trying to complete the whole man the body and the soul," said Elroy Brown.

Brown is the chairman of the Mississippi County Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas.  While stamping out smoking is high on his list of priorities he also understands you have to provide healthy alternatives for the whole person.

"Educate them about the importance of eating five to nine fruits and vegetables and the church is the ideal place to start," said Brown.

An almost $25,000 grant from the Arkansas Cancer Coalition is leading the path for this program in the community.  Brown said they wanted to focus on 16 African American churches but welcome any congregation.

"We've got different videos that we can give to the individual churches and we're willing to come out and do programs," said Brown.

Money from the grant will be used for various parts of the program.

"We have money to actually buy a tiller to till up the garden, hoes, rakes, we got money to buy different seeds," said Brown.

Over the next several weeks they will plant a garden with winter greens right next to the church.  People in the community, including children, will be invited to help out.

"It's exciting for them to see that you can put a tiny seed in the ground and it will raise a two to three foot plant and that you can actually eat it," said Pastor Odale Jones.

Jones said this isn't the first year they've planted a garden and by planting the garden next to the church he hopes to sow seeds in the community that will make residents come back.

"It gives me the opportunity to invest in the congregation how that in order to get something out you must put something in," said Jones.

A meeting will be held next Monday July 18th at the First Missionary Baptist Church to kick off the Body and Soul program.

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