Minnesota Food Charter Network Update: Policy Priorities

The Minnesota Food Charter contains 99 proven policy and systems changes strategies designed to increase reliable access to safe, affordable, healthy food for all Minnesotans. There are over twenty policy strategies contained in the Food Charter that are focused on state-level policy action. If implemented, these policies are designed to move the dial on creating healthier food environments, healthy food skills, and a healthy food infrastructure that supports the health and prosperity of all Minnesota communities.

This year, the Minnesota Food Charter Network–for the first time–has selected statewide policy priorities that reflect Food Charter strategies. The Food Charter Network’s Policy Action Team undertook a rigorous process to identify these priorities over the last several months. With guidance and engagement from hunger relief, healthcare, agriculture, public health, community food advocacy, economic development and other sectors, the Policy Action Team selected a series of important state-level policies that are consistent with Food Charter strategies. These policies include:

  1. Providing state funding for mobile food shelves
  2. Increasing resources to support hunger relief initiatives through food banks and food shelves
  3. Investing $10 million in the ‘Good Food Access Fund’ to support the development of healthy food retail in areas of the state with inadequate access to healthy food
  4. Contributing adequate funding for school meals to ensure districts have the resources they need to provide healthy food to students
  5. Providing resources to encourage small-scale food production to develop regional economies and enhance food security in communities across Minnesota

The Minnesota Food Charter Network will collaborate with coalitions and organizations leading this work, helping raise awareness about the issues and how these policies help fulfill Food Charter strategies.

Over the next couple of years, the Food Charter Network’s Policy Action Team will also undertake further work on:

  • Exploring concrete policy solutions to improve farmland access and farmland succession planning
  • Integrating and increasing funding for agricultural development, food and farm-related technical assistance, and food and farm-related enterprise development
  • Increasing and sustaining public support for farmers’ markets, so they are able to accept SNAP/EBT and provide ‘market bucks’ incentives to limited resource customers
  • Ensuring all Minnesotans have the resources they need to purchase healthy food, by supporting a living wage for all earners
  • Developing and implementing purchasing standards to ensure that foods purchased and served by state government-run facilities and agencies promote the health and well-being of the state’s residents
  • Providing sustained, adequate funding to improve our understanding and treatment of tick-borne diseases that affect Minnesotans’ ability to hunt and gather food
  • Offering adequate, affordable insurance coverage for farmers who raise healthy food for nearby markets, with a focus on healthcare, crops, and risk management
  • Developing a comprehensive, long-range plan to equip all Minnesotans with the healthy food skills they need to take care of their health
  • Generating investment and plans for a robust, profitable food infrastructure that promotes the health and prosperity of all Minnesotans, while provide resources needed by small and medium food and farm enterprises across the state

Making the healthy choice the easy choice for our state will necessitate policy work at the state level from seed to table. The Minnesota Food Charter Network is pleased to support the efforts of many partners advancing these policy changes, by engaging in issue advocacy and raising awareness of its supporters and relevant decision makers.