In just 12 months’ time, thousands of Minnesotans – the general public (consumers), nutrition experts, farmers, food distributors, and a host of other healthy food advocates – contributed their feedback about improving nutritious food access for all. Input gathered from more than 150 Food Charter Events, online worksheets, interviews, listening sessions, and a virtual townhall forum have helped Food Charter Steering Committee members hone in on key issues and options of greatest interest to these stakeholders .
With this feedback in hand, the Minnesota Food Charter Drafting Committee will draft a Food Charter document, recommending solutions to overcome the barriers to affordable, healthy food for Minnesotans in every corner of our state.
“As a member of the Drafting Committee tasked with creating the Food Charter document, I’m impressed with all of the detailed suggestions we have gathered since February 2013,” said Kris Igo, associate director, Healthy Lives Institute at the University of Minnesota. “Our group can now make sound proposals in the Food Charter that address issues like food skills, food cost, and infrastructure changes to our food supply to improve access to healthy food.”
Last month, recipients of the monthly Food Charter e-newsletter got a quick glimpse of key findings in the feature story. If you missed that article, click here.
Many Minnesotans report that availability of healthy, affordable food is a top concern; that healthy food is simply not readily available in many communities. Access to healthy food poses another barrier, with many communities lacking a grocery store or farmers market and, in some cases, only having access to costly, unhealthy food from nearby convenience stores. Participants also identified a widespread “food skills” gap, suggesting that meal planning, healthy eating, cooking, gardening, food budgeting, and shopping should be taught in schools across Minnesota. Others have pointed to a need to strengthen various scales of our food infrastructure, so institutions in our communities can purchase affordable, healthy food from nearby growers.
As stakeholders, you are encouraged to learn more about the findings from the Minnesota Food Charter in the coming months. On January 22, residents in five rural regions will attend simultaneous meetings to hear the findings and identify what is most needed in their region to improve healthy food access. Anyone can attend these events. Check out the links and locations below for more information:
- Rochester | 1-4 p.m.| Cascade Meadows | Register here
- Granite Falls | 12:30-4:30 p.m. | Kilowatt Community Center | Register here
- Mahnomen | 12-4 p.m. | Drumming Hall, White Earth Tribal & Community College | Register here
- Little Falls | 12:30-4:30 p.m. | Initiative Foundation | Register here
- Grand Rapids | 1-4 p.m. | Timberlake Lodge | Register here
If you can’t make a regional meeting, we’ll present the “For Our Healthy Food Future: Food Charter Findings” webinar on Wednesday, January 29 at 11 a.m. This webinar will provide an overview of Food Charter findings gathered from stakeholders. Check out details on our web site at http://mnfoodcharter.com/get-involved/events/ A recorded version of the “For Our Healthy Future” webinar will be available in early February at http://mnfoodcharter.com/tools-resources/.
Stay tuned for additional monthly webinars between February and July, where you can learn more about barriers and solutions to healthy food access in the institutions where we work, live, learn, and play across our state.
And, stay up to date on happenings by following the Food Charter on Facebook, reading the e-newsletters each month and joining us on webinars. Drafting Committee members will be guiding the Food Charter development process, which will be released in October 2014.
Your engagement is critical to the success and impact of the Minnesota Food Charter!