From Barren to Bountiful: A rural grocery store’s profound impact on food insecurity in the Mississippi Delta

An independent grocery store is making a big difference in the community of Marks, Mississippi, a small town in the Mississippi Delta region that was long considered a “food desert.”

In the heart of the Mississippi Delta, a beacon of change is challenging the status quo of long-time “food deserts” in their community. Jeffcoat’s Family Market, a grocery store that single-handedly transformed the landscape of Quitman County, is bringing a ray of hope to the town of Marks, Mississippi. Farm Week explores the inspiring success story of the market to fulfill a longing for access to fresh, healthy groceries.

For nearly four years, Quitman County endured the absence of a grocery store, leaving residents grappling with the challenges of accessing essential food items. Dollar Stores dot the region — but the absence of a proper meat and produce market left a void in the community’s nutritional landscape.

Economic Development Director for Quitman County Velma Wilson expressed the impact of this prolonged food desert, particularly on the elderly who struggled to find transportation to distant grocery stores.

Manuel Killebrew, a member of the Quitman County Board of Supervisors, shared a personal experience of having to forego a simple salad due to the unavailability of lettuce in nearby stores. Mari Alyce Earnest, an Extension Agent from Mississippi State University, also highlighted the impracticality of daily grocery trips when the nearest store was 20 miles away.

The Extension Service, collaborating with a local expert played a pivotal role in addressing this issue. Wilson, recognizing the potential for change, reached out to Dr. Rachael Carter, to leverage the Extension’s expertise in community development. Dr. Carter’s statistical analysis affirmed the viability of establishing a grocery store in the area, becoming a crucial piece in the puzzle of revitalizing Quitman County.

Dr. Carter emphasized the profound impact of a grocery store in a rural community, addressing not just the need for food but also contributing to overall health and well-being.

Jeffcoat’s Family Market, which opened in the town near Tunica, quickly became more than just a place to buy groceries — it became a symbol of hope, revitalizing a community that had endured years of food insecurity.

James Jeffcoat, the visionary behind Jeffcoat’s Family Market, reflected on the unexpected magnitude of the store’s opening, drawing attention from multiple television stations.

The transformation extended beyond convenience, also bringing about tangible economic progress. Wilson expressed tears of joy as she witnessed the creation of approximately 40 jobs with the opening of Jeffcoat’s Family Market.

Related Stories
Two Tennessee farmers were named National Young Farmer and Ranchers winners during the 105th annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Two Tennessee farmers were named National Young Farmer & Rancher winners during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 105th annual meeting last week.
Explore Secret Garden Bees’ sweet story of growth and success in the world of honey production thanks to a vital grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund.

A recent study by the Environmental Defense Fund in Kansas is urging farmers to diversify crop portfolios to mitigate risks and ensure long-term sustainability.
As farmers gear up for the spring planting season, it’s crucial to remember that financial planning goes hand in hand with early season crop protection.
Spot prices for corn posted another three-year low last week and they are mimicking a trend seen about a decade ago.
Supporters donated $1,161,970, and all of that money will go towards helping our nation’s future ag leaders.
Happy Give FFA Day! Join us as we strive to raise $1 million in just 24 hours!
Gas Buddy says one of the biggest factors in fuel price increases depends on how quickly and effectively refiners can finish pre-summer maintenance.
The bi-partisan bill would also play a key role in waterways. Congressman Ryan Zinkey says it would ensure the federal government does not take away property needed for public use.
Exports are predicted at nearly 1.9 billion bushels, and crush is expected to take up 2.4 billion bushels, an all-time high.
Rural Lifestyle & Entertainment Shows
Dailey & Vincent are BACK ON RFD-TV for another great season, brought to you by Gus Arrendale & Springer Mountain Farms. Join them as they welcome scores of fabulous bluegrass, country, and gospel music acts as special guests!
Join popular polka performer Mollie Busta as she hosts the weekly “Mollie B Polka Party” on RFD-TV! The one-hour program features the nation’s top polka bands and a wide variety of ethnic styles produced on location at music festivals from around the country.
Starring award-winning artist Perley Curtis, anyone who enjoys the classic sound of real Country music will love “Perley’s Place.” Filmed live at the iconic Nashville Palace, near Opryland in Nashville, TN, with a live audience, it’s one classic County hit after another.
The affable and unassuming international singing star Daniel O’Donnell is one of Ireland’s best known performers – from Australia to Alaska.
“The Marty Stuart Show” is a must-see during RFD-TV’s Saturday Night Music Row. Each exciting episode features Mr. Stuart and his band “The Fabulous Superlatives.” Episodes also feature his wife — “Country Queen,” Ms. Connie Smith—who has helped make the show a celebrated success.