Thinking Big at the Local Level: Doris’ Story

Clarksdale cooking class

At Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), we’re innovating every day to transform the food system for the better. One way we’re doing that is through our work in the Mississippi Delta. We’re working alongside the community and local stakeholders in the area to increase the affordability, accessibility, and visibility of fruit and vegetables.

Doris Haynes Miller is one of those local stakeholders in the Delta. Doris serves as the Project Community Liaison for PHA’s Mississippi Delta work and is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Dreams, Hope, and Miracles, Inc. As someone who was born, raised and educated in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Doris wants to start a movement to empower her community to consume more produce and lead healthier lives.

Doris has always had big dreams and been unstoppable in achieving them. She graduated from high school a year ahead of schedule, and then attended Jackson State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. She moved to Europe and lived there for nearly 9 years, during which she pursued a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management and later worked in Social Service with the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of the Army. However, her love of family and community brought her back home to the Mississippi Delta.

After losing her father and other close family members to cancer, Doris became passionate about addressing the health disparities that exist in the Mississippi Delta. And she quickly realized that one critical group of stakeholders was missing from the conversation around food and health equity: young people. “We have young people in elementary school who are suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes,” said Doris. “Young people just don’t have the opportunity or necessary education to eat healthy here. We need to help them understand how important it is to eat healthy.”

Doris is doing just that through her work with the Alcorn State University Extension Program, where she is creating and identifying activities to get youth involved in farming and agriculture. She’s also providing technical assistance to historically underserved and resource-limited farmers. At PHA, Doris is working on giving young people a voice with the goal of empowering them to eat more vegetables and fruit to lead healthy lives. She’s also connecting them with avenues to teach them how to create healthier twists on traditional Southern recipes.

Quote from Doris Haynes MillerAs PHA continues working with community members in the Mississippi Delta, what Doris is most excited about is the opportunity to bring PHA’s Good Food for All program to early childhood education centers in Clarksdale later this year with locally-sourced food.

“Along with having access to fresh and healthy food, we need a paradigm shift,” said Doris. “By the time a child reaches 6th or 7th grade, their palates have already become accustomed to junk food. In order to have this paradigm shift, we need to start building healthy habits and taste preferences in Head Start programs and daycares.”

Doris will be receiving a Master’s Degree in Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service in May 2023. She is making an impact on her community by continuing to think big. But everyone has a role to play in making food equity a reality.

Join the movement by visiting our Food Equity Action Center, and seeing how you can make an impact for food equity in your community.

PHA’s work in the Mississippi Delta is made possible by our partner Novo Nordisk.