Communities Across Minnesota Are Making Healthy, Safe, and Affordable Food a Priority

Communities Across Minnesota Are Making Healthy, Safe, and Affordable Food a Priority

State and local governments, using Minnesota Food Charter strategies, are increasing food access across Minnesota.  In this month’s report I’d like to call attention to three such ways:

  1. The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, a program of the Minnesota Department of Health, is working with over 800 partners to increase healthy food access.
  2. The Food Access Planning Guide, a companion document to the Minnesota Food Charter, is helping city and county governments see their role in creating a healthy food environment.
  3. And a newly-released guide drafted in partnership with the Public Health Law Center, Hunger Relief in Local Government Planning, lays out many strategies cities and counties can use address food insecurity.

The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) is having a profound impact.

As stated on SHIP’s website:

Good health is created where we live, work, learn and play. Schools, businesses, apartment owners/managers, farmers, community groups, senior organizations, hospitals, clinics, planning entities, Chambers of Commerce, faith communities and many more partners are creating better health together through SHIP all across Minnesota.

Here are just a few ways SHIP is making a difference.  In 2017:

  • Over 800 partners in the community are working on everything from farmers markets, community-based agriculture, emergency food systems, food retail, food policy councils, comprehensive planning, and more.
  • Over 450 workplaces are working on increasing access to healthy foods.
  • Almost 1000 schools are working on creating healthier food environments, including activities such as farm to school, school gardens, healthy snacks, and smarter lunchrooms.
  • Over 160 childcare facilities are working on creating healthier food environment.
  • Over 500 community partners (child care, health care, and worksites) are working on breastfeeding initiatives.

Bravo, SHIP!

City and county governments are seeing their role in healthy food access.

The Minnesota Food Charter Food Access Planning Guide provides tools, resources, proven policy strategies, and recommended planning and zoning language for comprehensive plans, so local government planners and community food advocates can collaborate to design communities that promote access to healthy, safe, affordable food.  And the guide is being used across the state:

  • So far over 34 Minnesota cities and 6 counties in the Twin Cities Metro Region have adopted food access language into their comprehensive plans.
  • More language has been used in other kinds of local plans around the state as well, whether it be small area or neighborhood plans, climate impact plans, transportation infrastructure, bike and pedestrian plans, or watershed plans.

Hot off the presses:  The Hunger Relief in Local Planning guide provides multiple ways cities and counties can improve their food environment.

Local units of government have many methods they can use to improve access to healthy, safe, and affordable food.  For example, as stated in the Hunger Relief in Local Planning guide, local units of government can:

  • coordinate bus schedules with open hours of food vendors;
  • support innovative food distribution models, including grocery delivery services, reduced-cost mobile markets, and mobile food shelf delivery, through partnerships with local businesses and social service agencies; and/or
  • include incentives for green space, gardening, and healthy food outlets in multi-housing developments.

Of course, none of the strategies listed in the Hunger Relief in Local Planning guide will be implemented if communities don’t ask for it.  
Check out the guide and see what strategies you think can work for your community.