Farmhouse to Your House has strong roots in community partnerships to bring people in Mississippi fresh produce and resources to live healthier lives. A collaboration among Diabetes Prevention Programs, local farms, and a celebrity chef, the Novo Nordisk program helps bring fresh food to people who – due to financial or geographic limitations – wouldn’t have had it otherwise.  My name’s Anne, and I’m excited to share that I’ll be taking the baton from my colleague Julie to lead the program on behalf of Novo Nordisk. You can look for updates from me here on Perspectives , and Novo Nordisk’s US Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter accounts. But now, I want to put my community partners, Dr. Cindy Ayers Elliott of Foot Print Farms and celebrity chef Nick Wallace, in the spotlight to tell their stories. Because we couldn’t bring the Farmhouse to Your House without them!

– Anne Connell, Novo Nordisk

Growing up on my grandmother’s farm in Mississippi, I saw how the food she ate affected her health living with diabetes. I watched her get sick when she wasn’t eating well, and feel better when she started cooking with fresh, local ingredients. Watching her make dishes with Delta grits and black-eyed peas taught me that you don’t have to cook masterpieces on fancy dinnerware, but you do have to serve up good, farm fresh food. Today, I use fruits and vegetables from local farmers to shape my signature dishes as a professional chef. And at 94 years old, my grandmother’s still as feisty as a pepper.

However, not everyone in Mississippi had someone like her to set an example for healthy eating. More than 37 percent of the adults in my state live with prediabetes. Many of them, especially in disadvantaged communities, are at a higher risk of developing diabetes – partly because they don’t have access to fresh produce and the skills to prepare it.  

Thankfully, my passion for local ingredients and southern food can help make a difference in the community I love! Drawing inspiration from my grandmother’s kitchen, I show folks in Farmhouse to Your House how to prepare healthy food with the same flavors they grew up on. Using fresh wholesome ingredients like carrots, potatoes, turnips, and herbs you can cook up hearty dishes that are good for you too. I’ve always seen food as an opportunity to educate, and every person I teach can take those skills and recipes home and adapt them for their families.  

My grandmother inspired me to provide people with opportunities to overcome barriers that impact their health and well-being, and I’m honored to partner with Novo Nordisk and my good friend Dr. Cindy Ayers Elliott to do that in Mississippi. 

It’s never too late to make choices that will change your life for the better. I was a successful investment banker in New York City, but decided to leave after 9/11. Ready to call Mississippi “home” again, I invested in 68 acres of land and became CEO of a non-profit helping small businesses and farmers in the Mississippi Delta.

Years later, I heard Michelle Obama talk about her healthy foods initiative and realized: So many of my fellow Mississippians struggled with their health because they didn’t have access to fresh produce, even though we lived on some of the most fertile land in the country. I turned my 68 acres into a farm, which would focus on bringing healthy, sustainable food to people in my home state.

Today, Footprint Farms is the largest urban farm in Mississippi. Our mission is to grow – not just fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs - but healthy Mississippians. We provide affordable food directly to Farmhouse to Your House participants through our Diabetes Prevention Program partners. With Farmhouse to Your House, we’re planting a seed in the minds of Mississippians, creating an environment where they can change their lives and reduce the rate of diabetes in future generations.