Ole Miss grad student uses her book to teach children about food insecurity

Published 12:34 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

Elizabeth Swindell, a graduate student in Public Health at Ole Miss, is taking a unique approach to addressing food insecurity among elementary-aged children through her recently published children’s book, “Two Sandwiches: Make One, Give One.”

Swindell, an alumna of Ole Miss with a degree in nutrition, is the reigning Miss Queen of the South. She recently visited schools across Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Alabama to share her book and school program.

Locally, she has visited Lafayette Lower Elementary three times and will be visiting Pontotoc Elementary next month.

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The program includes reading “Two Sandwiches” to students and engaging them in making two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—one for themselves and one for a friend.

“With Mississippi being the No. 1 most food insecure state, I focus on spreading the message of food waste and food insecurity awareness as well as the importance of access to a healthy diet,” Swindell said.

Self-published via Amazon in January, “Two Sandwiches,” features artwork by Daijah Smith, a high school student from Texas.

The narrative revolves around George, a child who discovers his friend’s food insecurity when she doesn’t bring lunch to school. Inspired to help, George and his mother start packing two sandwiches in his lunchbox so that his friend will have something to eat. The story helps kids to process how they are able to help out and be advocates starting from a young age.

“It has been so rewarding getting to go into schools and allowing kids to ask questions that they have about the topic. I bring coloring sheets (of a blank can of food) that they work on as I read through my book,” she said. “Many of them afterwards comment on how they designed their can of food to look like one that they brought to a food pantry which is always awesome to hear because it means that they are connecting the idea of food insecurity to a community resource that aids it.”

Through her innovative approach, Swindell aims to empower children to become advocates for addressing food insecurity from a young age, fostering a sense of compassion and social responsibility within communities.