Healthy Food Access for Minnesota Youth

Minnesota Food Charter Public Input Findings: School Setting

In last month’s newsletter, we told you a little more about the public input process for the Minnesota Food Charter and gave a sneak peek into some of the findings that were presented at the January 29 “For Our Healthy Food Future: Food Charter Findings.” More than 150 people participated to learn about key findings from this important phase of the Food Charter.

Between late January and early March, six regional meetings will occur across Minnesota to share the findings from the first phase of the Minnesota Food Charter input process with regional food policy networks.

In case you haven’t been able to participate in these meetings or the webinar, the findings showed:

  • Many Minnesotans are concerned with the lack of availability of healthy, affordable food in our communities.
  • Participants identified a widespread “food skills” gap, suggesting that meal planning, cooking, gardening and more skills should be taught on a more systematic basis.
  • People highlighted the need to strengthen our food infrastructure so organizations in our communities are more easily able to purchase affordable, healthy food from local growers.

But these items are merely a glimpse into what was uncovered in this first phase. To learn more, you can watch the recorded version of the webinar.

So, what’s next?

Once completed, the Minnesota Food Charter will describe barriers to healthy food access and related solutions where Minnesotans live, work and play, including schools, childcare, healthcare, worksites and communities, identified by stakeholders participating in the Food Charter process. The Minnesota Food Charter document will be released in October 2014, sharing peoples’ hopes, concerns, and ideas to provide healthy food access for all Minnesotans.

Between now and September, there will be monthly Minnesota Food Charter findings webinars. These 45-minute overviews will start at 11 a.m. every third Thursday of the month (see completed schedule, below). Presenters will share findings and specifics about recommendations for various institutional settings, diverse communities, and news on what’s ahead.

School Setting – What did we hear?

Since children spend so much of their time in school settings—during the school day, after school, at school events, and at summer programs—having adequate access to healthy food in school environments is critical. And residents of Minnesota have reason to be concerned about children’s health and related implications for the future. In recent decades, obesity rates have dramatically increased among children and youth in the United States, contributing to an increase in diseases like type 2 diabetes. From a long-term perspective, these issues present major considerations for economic impact:

  • How will healthcare costs be impacted if future generations continue to live, work, learn, and play in unhealthy food environments?
  • How will worker well-being and productivity impact the bottom line?
  • What will overall quality of life be like, if the majority of our primary population is unhealthy?

“The K-12 and college environments play an important role in ensuring that students have access to healthy foods, develop healthy eating habits, and learn the food skills they’ll need as adults,” said Mary Morrow, staff attorney at William Mitchell College of Law’s Public Health Center and Minnesota Food Charter drafting committee member. “Improving access to healthy foods in school settings requires collaboration among many stakeholders in our school system so they can collectively look at new initiatives including how to aggregate local food sources to ensure K-12 schools and higher education institutions have access to a consistent source of high quality foods to meet the demands of serving the student population.”

Third Thursday February – School Setting

Coming soon! The Minnesota Food Charter will offer a monthly webinar – on the third Thursday of every month. February’s Third Thursday, “For Our Healthy Food Future: Healthy Food Access and Schools” webinar will share findings, barriers, opportunities and solutions about how to create healthy, safe and affordable food access in places where children, youth and young adults spend their time. Based on findings from the 2,000-plus participants in the Minnesota Food Charter public input process, this webinar will share how what people eat and what they learn about healthy eating and healthy food preparation are critical to our future health and well-being. From concessions to vending, food service to fundraisers, and food skills education, webinar participants will learn how all of these components are crucial to ensure we can create healthy food settings in schools across Minnesota – and improve Minnesota’s bottom line.

The Third Thursday February – School Setting webinar will take place at 11 a.m. on February 20, 2014. Click here to tune in.

Upcoming Third Thursday Webinars

Webinar Schedule