OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) -- Dozens of elementary students in Oktibbeha County cheered and clapped Monday night, having fun and learning about healthy eating.
Healthworks! outreach coordinator Kathy Tucker says that information is crucial at a young age.
"We are giving just bits of information, experiences for these kids to use and relate to other parts of their life," Tucker said. "A lot of these kids don't have access to the groceries, the fresh produce that are so important for their lives. Talk about a food desert; this state has a lot of issues with that."
Thirty-threee counties throughout north Mississippi are served by the Healthworks! organization, and that's part of the reason the organization decided to come to East Oktibbeha Elementary School, to help serve a need.
Just ask school nurse Yvette Williams, who contacted the Tupelo-based organization.
"This program not only reaches the kids, it reaches the parents and staff members. We are on our way to becoming a healthy school," Williams said.
How's this for a good indication of just how much the community embraced the event? The cafeteria -- which seats a maximum of 400 -- was nearly filled for the presentation.
Many parents -- like resident Kim Harris -- say they understand the importance of this.
"When they grow up and have kids of their own, they'll be able to instill in their children how to eat and portion size, what amount is the correct amount on their plate, and also being physically active," Harris said.
Then again, Mississippi is no stranger to healthy eating struggles. After all, the state has been at the top of the list in obesity nationwide for several years.
So how do you fix something that seems too widespread to tackle?
"It is a huge, enormous problem and it is not going to go away overnight, but we are going to attack this one child at a time, one school at a time," Tucker said. "It's really important that we teach these children what's important, and how to use the information that we give them in shopping, and how they play every day, how they learn."
Organizers said it also reminds parents that what they teach their children now will more than likely shape them the rest of their lives.