Press Release

Renovation and Revitalization of Mississippi Delta Community Improves Access to and Visibility of Local Fruits and Vegetables

April 24, 2024

A renovation project focusing on a locally-owned corner store, alongside the revitalization of public spaces in Clarksdale, Mississippi seeks to provide access to fruits and vegetables and build healthy food systems in the Delta.

Clarksdale, MS – Partnership for a Healthier America is working alongside J’s Grocery, a locally owned, 3,500 sq ft corner store in the Brickyard neighborhood of Clarksdale, MS, to provide investments and technical assistance for building enhancements, equipment purchases, and interior design and layout in an effort to increase the availability and variety of fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood. Neighborhood residents currently have limited options if they are looking to purchase fresh produce. The collaboration with the 27-year old store will provide greater access to fresh produce and other health-building foods, with a priority on community well being.

“J’s Grocery sits at the center of an important community in Clarksdale,” said Tyler Yarbrough, Manager of Mississippi Delta Programs at Partnership for a Healthier America. “We’re honored to be working together with the store’s owner, Al Jones, and his family to create a space that invites families to experience fresh, healthy and affordable food that isn’t available elsewhere in the area. Businesses like J’s Grocery are critical to a just food system that helps people thrive.”

“PHA and Rootswell are staying true to their word with this project. They are truly interested in making America healthy and increasing access to fresh fruit and vegetables by supporting local, mom-and-pop businesses like J’s Grocery. Our Community needs it and I’m ready to provide it! We will continue with our Cold Cuts and we’re excited to soon offer more local vegetables and fruit,“ said Al Jones, store owner.

A concept drawing of the exterior of J’s Grocery, as it is intended to look post-revitalization.

The project is funded by Novo Nordisk, and is being completed in collaboration with Kudzu Collective and Griot Arts Inc. Renovations will begin this month.

In conjunction but separate from the store renovations, Bloomberg Philanthropies has selected Clarksdale as a recipient of an Asphalt Art Grant of $25,000. This unique program supports projects that use art and design to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage residents. Clarksdale’s project will help enhance public spaces and improve walkability in the Brickyard neighborhood while connecting nearby schools to J’s Grocery, who is shifting inventory towards fresh, health-building food.

At Griot Arts, we believe in the transformative power of the arts to create spaces where people are both inspired and experience a sense of belonging. By integrating this community-driven and inspired street mural into the renovation of J’s Grocery, we hope to inspire community members to see possibilities instead of limitations. This project reflects our desire to use art not to amplify our own genius, but to encourage the beauty, genius, and creativity found in neighborhoods like the Brickyard to flourish and thrive. We’re excited to work alongside community members and local artists to bring this project to life in the heart of the Brickyard neighborhood,” expressed Rebekah Pleasant-Patterson, Executive Director of Griot Arts.

Image Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies

The City of Clarksdale responded saying “it is proud to support and participate in this transformative project that can serve as a model to reimagine each of our neighborhoods”. “This project is a community economic development project that gets our citizens closer to being healthier and happier. It’s a testament to what we can achieve when there’s alignment between nonprofits, philanthropies, community organizations, private businesses, and government.

The Asphalt Art Project is led by Griot Arts Inc. in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America, the City of Clarksdale, the Clarksdale Municipal School District, and Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center. It is set to be completed in the Fall of 2024.

Together, these projects are supporting local economic development and driving positive change in the community food system of the Mississippi Delta. To learn more about how you can be a part of a more equitable and just food system, visit


Griot Arts: Rebekah Pleasant-Patterson, Executive Director, Griot

Rootswell: Lakisha L. Butler, Director MS Delta Programs

City of Clarksdale: Milliscent Dixon, Grant Writer for city of Clarksdale

About Griot Arts Inc.

Griot Arts, based in Clarksdale, Mississippi, is dedicated to nurturing creativity, empowering individuals, and fostering a strong sense of community belonging. Our organization’s focus lies in arts education and workforce development, two powerful tools for creating a brighter future. Our comprehensive arts education programs aim to inspire and nurture the next generation of artists, providing them with the necessary skills to excel in their chosen field and contribute meaningfully to society. We believe artistic expression is a powerful force that uplifts communities and creates positive change. Visit for more information.

About Kudzu Collective

The Kudzu Collective team is an outward-focused practice that brings a combination of skills in community development, civic engagement, and consensus building to the process of design. We intentionally include collaborators of diverse backgrounds and create dynamic environments where those you serve have a voice around the table. We are fully convinced that overlooked communities still have a positive story to tell. We have seen this incremental progress in our own hometowns, and believe it is possible in yours, as well. Visit for more information.

About Rootswell

Launching in spring 2024, Rootswell is a community-owned brand campaign that taps into the creative, community food system in the Mississippi Delta with the goal of shifting the paradigm of food apartheid through shared ideas and resources. We help locally-grown produce find its way into local kitchens, onto families’ tables, and demonstrate a healthier way to living fully and joyfully in the Delta. We believe in a just food system for all and that food is the foundation of equity. We believe that if you want to change something, get creative, and that community grows itself with the right tools. Today, we plant a seed. Tomorrow, we feast. Visit for more information.

About Partnership for a Healthier America

Partnership for a Healthier America is the premier national nonprofit organization working to create lasting, systemic changes that transform the food landscape in pursuit of health equity. PHA develops evidence-based approaches that are implemented in partnership with the private sector, nonprofits, and government, leveraging PHA’s assets and the partner’s knowledge to accelerate the pace of transformation. Learn more at

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