Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

___

Sept. 6

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on health initiatives:

Many agencies, organizations and institutions across the state work every day toward one common goal — making Mississippi a healthier place.

It's no doubt a tall task. The state has the second highest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to "The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America," which was released last month.

Mississippi's adult obesity rate is currently 37.3 percent, up from 23.7 percent in 2000 and from 15 percent in 1990.

But that task — specifically the fight against obesity and chronic disease — is one that could pay tremendous dividends for our state and its people in so many arenas.

That's why we're glad to see so many different resources being offered right here in Northeast Mississippi toward that goal.

As featured in an article by the Daily Journal's Ginna Parsons earlier this week, the Mississippi State University Extension Service's Office of Nutrition Education has three regional dietitians throughout the state working with different partners throughout our communities.

Samantha Willcutt, a Starkville resident, oversees the northeast region of the state, working from Verona at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center next to the former Lee County Agri-Center, although the job takes her throughout the region.

Through the Office of Nutrition Education, the dietitians oversee Extension's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed. They work with SNAP-Ed nutrition educators in county offices to help coordinate efforts to teach low-resource families ways to improve their diets, increase physical activity and manage their food resources.

Willcutt says one goal she and the other dietitians have been working toward at the direction of administrators is to expand the focus of the program from just education to PSE — policy, systems and environment.

For example, Willcutt said, if a school has a rule that says students can't bring sugary treats to school for parties, that's a policy. So the school has to have a plan to implement the policy, which affects the system. In turn, the students are offered healthier snacks at parties, which makes a healthier environment.

One way SNAP-Ed is hoping to make a difference is by partnering with the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, which uses strategies to increase school lunch participation, improve consumption of healthy food and reduce food waste.

This fall, SNAP-Ed hopes to offer a free six-week program for adults called Cooking Matters, where limited-resource participants will learn to navigate a grocery store and to cook easy, healthful, low-cost meals.

Perhaps Willcutt said it best when she described the efforts needed to make an impact: "This is a full-on fight at every corner at every level."

The effort to make Mississippi a healthier place is no doubt a full-on fight and must be one that's received with open arms from all Mississippians. Otherwise, we'll continue being at the top — or bottom — of national lists.

Online: http://www.djournal.com/

___

Aug. 28

The Sun Herald on remembering the victims of Hurricane Katrina by helping Hurricane Harvey victims:

Twelve years ago Tuesday, Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast and changed our lives forever. In past years, the Sun Herald marked Aug. 29 by writing about the storm and the recovery of the Mississippi Coast.

But as the Hurricane Harvey catastrophe unfolds in east Texas, we believe that would not be appropriate this year.

We have not forgotten how it felt to see lives and homes washed away. We remember how it felt to clean our houses or remove the debris that was once a home and begin to rebuild. We remember the long lines for essentials such as food and water and how it felt to be unsure if there would be enough of either to go around. We remember the guilt felt by those of us who suffered little or no damage and wondered why we were spared and not our neighbors.

We remembered how we mourned the loss of the Coast we loved and the fear of an uncertain future. We remember the support that poured in from across the United States, not just from the federal government, but from churches, civic clubs and people from all walks of life who responded.

And, we remember how far we've come, how our uncertainty and fears ebbed as we rebuilt. We remember the relief we felt as businesses and homes returned to the Coast.

But we see the photographs and videos from Rockport, Port Aransas and the small towns strung from Corpus Christi to Houston and we ask you not to forget the despair you felt as you worried that help was not on the way, how you felt to be cut off from the world and how it felt when it seemed we had been forgotten.

And this disaster is far from over. The storm headed back out over the Gulf on Monday and appears headed to a second landfall at the Louisiana-Texas border. In Houston, the fourth largest city in America, we don't know the extent of the damage and may not know for weeks how much that great city lost.

We know there were tens of thousands chased from their homes by flooding and countless homes lost to rising waters. Officials estimate it will be weeks before many across Texas are able to return home. Tens of thousands more have homes but are without power. An untold number fled the storm and are unsure when they'll return.

And the rain continues to fall.

We believe the best way for the Mississippi Coast to commemorate Katrina, is keep those in the path of this storm and its aftermath in our thoughts and prayers. And we need to ask ourselves, "What can I do to help?"

We can write checks to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other relief agencies. It likely will be days before there is a need for volunteers to flood into Texas but, eventually, thousands will be needed. Our people are especially qualified to help because we have lived through such an overwhelming disaster.

We know some people will need just about everything to rebuild their lives. We know billions of dollars in relief will be necessary.

And we know that it will help if the Texas Gulf Coast simply knows it hasn't been forgotten and won't be forgotten until it once again thrives.

So pause and remember Katrina, then begin thinking about what you can do to help those in Harvey's path.

Online: http://www.sunherald.com/

___

Sept. 5

The Picayune Item on Medicaid misspending:

The health care system is difficult to understand, and so is the insurance market.

But state and federal agencies dealing with these matters have billions of dollars at their disposal and, hopefully, these funds will be put in the places that need it the most.

Mississippi is one of the poorest states so it receives one of the highest percentages of federal Medicaid funding.

But this year, the state recovered $8.6 million in misspent Medicaid funds.

Let that number sink in for a moment. $8.6 million dollars. That's enough to build 70 percent of the county's proposed annex project.

That's about $2 million more than the county's entire general fund budget for 2017.

With that much money being misspent, we have to wonder, where is it going? How does the state recover it? And what effect does that have on health care providers when that money is taken back?

While it is commendable the state was able to recover those funds, the misuse of funding shouldn't have occurred in the first place.

Health care administrators hold a lot of power, and so do federal and state agencies. That's why it's so important for checks and balances.

With this amount of funding being misspent, it's time for the private sector health care systems to get a grip on spending taxpayers' money.

While providing adequate health care to all is essential, it has to be done in the right ways to prevent further harm.

Online: http://www.picayuneitem.com/