Noel Didla is an immigrant from South India making Jackson, MS home. As such, Noel is invested in the MS Food Policy Council to build community power through equitable and ethical policy work. Noel believes that people-centered food policy must be informed by a deep analysis of white supremacy, power, class, race, gender and systems.
I have been a member of the MS Food Policy Council Board since its inception. I firmly believe food sovereignty and strong local food systems can provide economic benefits and better health outcomes for all Mississippians.
I am accountable to the children of Mississippi. I have spent my career in school food reform and have found a niche that allows me to work within and outside of the US Gov’t towards changing how children are fed at schools. It is my belief and dream that all students should receive a free school meal that is delicious, well-balanced, full of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and culturally relevant. My work is focused on improving school and early childcare meals, but I generally know that the more we improve our food system, the better our economy, environment, and families will flourish. I focus on schools but am engaged in systems work and understand that schools/eces are one piece of large system. I do this work for my ancestors, my descendants, and my peers - especially those who are continually up against the world.
I am a fourth-generation traditional farmer of Brandon, Mississippi training and being the steward of a diversified farm. Thru the various generations, we believed in the health of the family and our neighbors so it was instilled in us to utilize a chemical-free farm management plan which is still being used today. I joined the Mississippi Food Policy Council to be a voice for farmers that want to continue their family traditions but be represented on a larger stage. I am there voice. My whole life has been a training ground for me to continue the message of "Food is Medicine" when it is properly grown, tended to and harvested in a way our body can sustain itself without the disease.
As a long-time community organizer, I engage an active group of emerging young leaders in serving our community.
I am involved with the Mississippi Food Policy Council to represent limited resource farmers who are the backbone of food production in our area of the state. We routinely reserve 30% of the produce co-op members grow to supply local residents.
I am originally from Uruguay where I studied cultural anthropology and artisanal fisheries in the Eastern region of this country. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Mississippi State University. I received my Ph.D. and Master's degrees in Sociology and Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. My work in the United States and in Latin America has focused on the participation of minority groups in agri-food systems and how rural communities perceive and respond to environmental challenges created by agriculture and/or climate change. With my work at the MFPC, I hope to contribute to improving availability and access to fresh and healthy food in Mississippi, especially among disadvantaged individuals and communities.
Julian D. Miller is currently an associate attorney at Forman Watkins & Krutz LLP in Jackson, Mississippi, where he focuses his practice on a variety of civil litigation matters, including commercial litigation, general and products liability matters, governmental litigation and appeals in state and federal court. However, his main focus is developing anti-poverty projects in economic development, public health, and education in the Mississippi Delta that will have a transformational impact on public policy in Mississippi.
Laciana McIntyre, MS is the Health & Wellness Director at The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi (PHM). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology and a Master’s Degree in Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion from Mississippi State University. Laciana oversees all health and wellness programs at PHM to include: Farm to School and Farm to ECE, child nutrition, physical activity, and overall obesity prevention. Laciana promotes grassroots health promotion activities, conducts public speaking, provides technical assistance to schools and early care and education centers, collaborates with state departments and community-based organizations, and conducts grant writing. Laciana joined the Mississippi Food Policy Council because she is passionate about educating Mississippians about good health and the importance of local foods; advocating for Farm to School initiatives; and creating awareness about the current challenges in food systems.
Ya-Sin Shabazz is a Gulf Coast native from Pass Christian, MS. After two years as Director of the Steps Coalition’s Gulf Coast Regional Collaborative, Shabazz recently chartered a small business consulting firm, SO Alternatives, LLC, and looks forward to a 2020 return to Hijra House, a community and faith-based organization anchored in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Under Shabazz’s leadership, Hijra House launched the Efficient and Renewable (ENR) Initiative, prioritizing minority contractors in energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) projects and teaming with organizations and advocates to educate minority communities on energy policy and planning. Shabazz aims to prioritize a transformative Just Transition in Mississippi’s energy industry while revamping Hijra House; coordinating 2020 Vision: A Gulf Coast Plan for Community Economic Development; and streamlining existing Hijra House programs around food, energy, and water.
Shabazz also serves on the Board of the Mississippi Food Policy Council and the Biloxi Islamic Center (BIC), and spearheads BIC’s pursuit of increased, faith-based programs. Shabazz received a Baccalaureate in Economics/ Political Science from Yale University and is the previous owner/operator of Noor Residential Electrical Services.