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Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are in town this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

 This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Jess Nolan (jess.nolan@heart.org or 952-278-7928) as soon as possible.

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Legislative Session is Over, How Did We Do?

The legislature has adjourned for the 2016 session and as you likely have heard they worked right down to the deadline. The heart-health policies we have been working on celebrated some big wins and a few disappointments. Take a minute to read our recap below. Stay tuned for possible special session to address some of the issues the legislature failed to reach agreement on—transportation, bonding, and other issues.

The Wins

STEMI System of Care – We have built a system of care for the most time sensitive type of heart attack, a STEMI. The new legislation authorizes the MN Department of Health to designate STEMI Receiving Centers and requires all EMS services in the state to have current triage and transport protocols for STEMI Patients. As a result of this success the state’s 5.4+ million residents, including those 8,000+ individuals who suffer a STEMI each year, will now be more likely to receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place, regardless of where they live in the state. This legislation has been a long time in the works and is now law thanks to your support and actions!

Strengthening Physical Education – We strengthened physical education this year by requiring new/updated PE standards and grade-specific benchmarks which were adopted as part of the supplemental budget bill (HF2749). Standards and benchmarks had not been updated since 2004! Much has changed since then to focus PE on physical fitness rather than competitive sports. This is a great win for Minnesota’s kids—stronger PE=healthier, happier, academically successful kids!

Good Food Access Fund – When we launched this campaign last fall, we hoped to build awareness about healthy food access with legislators this session, but ended up striking a serious chord for policymakers and stakeholders who want to see healthy food access addressed ASAP! The Senate language establishing the program, with $250,000 in one-time funding, was included in the supplemental budget bill under the Agriculture Article (HF2749). This small infusion of funds and establishment of the program in state statute will provide significant momentum to fully fund the Good Food Access Fund in 2017 (we are seeking $10 million per year for the fund). Stay tuned for more ways you can help keep this campaign moving forward and make it top of mind for lawmakers in the coming months.

Still in the Fight

Safe Routes to School – We are seeking a $6 million investment in safe routes to infrastructure in the capital investment/bonding bill. As you may have heard, no bonding bill was passed due to a last minute breakdown in the deal. The final version of the bonding bill did include funding for SRTS—up to $6 million at the discretion of the MNDOT commissioner. Possibility of a special session to pass a bonding bill is unclear at this time, but we will keep you posted when we know more and what actions you can take on this issue.

Active Transportation – As you have heard, no transportation bill was passed this session despite very intense negotiations throughout session and strong leadership by Chairman Dibble to fight for funding dedicated to active transportation – funding for walking and biking as part of a multi-modal comprehensive transportation package. This is one of the issues that is likely to resurface if a special session is called. We will continue to work this issue and ensure that walk/bike funding is a core part of the negotiations during a potential special session and next session.

Thank you for you action this year! It is because of dedicated advocates like you that we have been so successful! Please stay tuned for ways you can continue to help during the summer and fall!

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Good Food Access Fund is Ready to Take on MN's Healthy Food Access Problem!

More than 340,000 Minnesotans face both distance and income as a barrier to obtaining healthy, affordable food such as fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meats and poultry.1 This problem is only worsening with 61% of Minnesota counties losing grocery stores since 2007.2 Limited access to healthy, affordable foods results in disproportionately higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related health problems.3 It is also one of the key contributing factors to the health disparities that currently exist in Minnesota among many communities of color.4

Last fall, the American Heart Association and the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition obtained a Voices for Healthy Kids grant to create a healthy food financing policy solution to address this state-wide problem. We knew that such programs in other states were successful where grocery stores were reopened in low access areas, improving good food access and revitalizing local economies. 

In true Minnesotan fashion, we decided to do things a little differently. Based on feedback garnered during our ongoing community engagement and in accordance with the Minnesota Food Charter, we knew that solely reopening grocery stores would not be the answer. Working with partners across health, food insecurity, agriculture, and community-investment interests, we proposed the Good Food Access Fund which would be established and funded by the Minnesota Legislature. It would provide grants, low-cost loans, and technical support for food-related enterprises in areas of the state where people don’t have the ability to choose healthy, affordable foods. Those enterprises could include new or enhanced grocery stores, mobile markets and farmers’ markets, fresh food refrigeration, and other innovative community-driven solutions. 

We introduced the Good Food Access Fund bill at the beginning of the Minnesota legislative session in early March. We expected this to be an introduction/education year for the Good Food Access Fund – but WOW!!! Thanks to our amazing chief bill authors, Senator Dan Sparks and Representative Rod Hamilton, and the work of all our partners, the bill got so much more attention and support than we anticipated. The bill went on a whirlwind tour of 6 committee hearings in 6 weeks!  The last of the hearings, was before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Equity, a new committee that represents the first time the legislature has taken a serious look at addressing racial disparities. The Subcommittee included our bill in their budget recommendations and appropriated $5 million in one-time funding!! This is far from the finish line and a final win is still a long ways away with many hurdles – but this is a HUGE accomplishment! The next few weeks of the legislative session will tell whether this $5 million appropriation becomes a reality. 

Our success this year really speaks to how relevant and important the issue of food access is in Minnesota; it crosses partisan and geographic divides. It’s not just an economic issue, it’s a health and equity issue as well. We have sent the message that improving food access is a priority in Minnesota! Thanks to all of the YTC members who have responded to our Action Alerts! We look forward to your continued support as we move forward! Please like and follow the campaign on Facebook for more information!

___________________________

[1] Mattessich, P. & Rausch, E. (2016).Healthy food access: A view of the landscape in Minnesota and lessons learned from healthy food financing initiatives. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and Wilder Research.

2 Center for Rural Policy and Development. Grocery Stores by the Number. Mankato, MN 2014.

3 Manon, M. & Kim, E. (2012).Food for every child: The need for more supermarkets in Minnesota. The Food Trust. www.healthyfoodaccess.org/resources/library/food-for-every-child-the-need-for-more-supermarkets-in-minnesota 

4http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/POC/POCSpring2009.pdf://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/POC/POCSpring2009.pdf


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Symposium Attendees Taught to "Rethink Your Drink"

Attendees at the Worksite Wellness Symposium learned just how much sugar is in their daily beverages. We started out our 15 minute breakout session with a Price is Right style game, "Higher or Lower?"  Attendees had three plates of sugary treats in front of them, next to a 20 oz bottle of soda.  They had 30 seconds to determine whether the treat had a higher or lower sugar content than the soda.  Before the next game they were given facts on how much sugar the American Heart Association recommends for adult women, adult men, children, and teenagers. 

The next game was "The Sugar Shuffle!"  Attendees had two minutes to match up the amount of teaspoons of sugar with the correct drink on the board.  They were surprised at how much sugar was actually in the beverages they and their family consume every day!

Before they moved on to the next session, we asked them to sign a "Rethink Your Drink" pledge card, pledging to consume zero sugary beverages for the entire month of March, which happens to be Nutrition Month.

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The Good Food Access Fund Campaign Kickoff was a Success!

This past Tuesday, the Good Food Access Fund Campaign Kickoff took place at The Wilder Center in St. Paul.  We were fortunate to have a group of more than 100 health, food, equity, agriculture and community-development advocates, led by the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition. The Good Food Access Fund seeks to address the insufficient access to healthy and affordable foods in Minnesota.

At the kickoff event, we learned about new key research findings surrounding healthy food access, availability, and affordability issues in Minnesota. We also spent time exploring ways to engage with and support the Good Food Access Fund Campaign.

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Register Now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day 2016!

Register now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day!

Don’t miss a chance to lend your voice to help improve the health of Minnesota kids by attending our 2nd Minnesotans For Healthy Kids Coalition Day at the Capitol. Join us on March 16, 2016 to advocate with others around the state by talking with your lawmakers.

During the morning you will attend advocacy workshops and trainings and then put those new skills to the test by meeting with your state legislators. Breakfast and lunch are included, and meetings with your state legislators will be scheduled for you.

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102
8:00 AM—4:00 PM
 
Register online now!

Or call 952-278-7928 by March 2, 2016
 
 
This year's issues include:
Quality Physical Education
Safer Walking and Biking 
 

For more details and to register, visit www.heart.org/MNHealthyKids

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Join us at the Good Food Access Fund Campaign Kick Off!

The Good Food Access Fund campaign is off to a GREAT start for this legislative session.  Senator Dan Sparks (DFL) is our chief bill author, and we are building grassroots and organizational support throughout Minnesota.

Please join us for our campaign kickoff event on February 23, 2016 to learn more about this initiative to bring healthy, affordable food access to underserved communities throughout our state.




Good Food Access Fund Campaign Kick Off
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
Registration and Lunch starts at 11:30 AM
Program 12:00 - 2:30 PM

REGISTER ONLINE HERE!

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
451 Lexington Parkway North
St. Paul, MN 55104

Lunch will be provided. No cost to attend but advance registration is required.
Free parking is available at the venue.

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Pump Up P.E. Webinar

On Monday, January 25, 2016 join us from 12:30pm-2pm for a webinar on how physical educators can better engage parents as champions of physical education and school health. Hosted by the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity’s workgroup on Childhood Nutrition & Physical Activity in Educational Settings, this webinar will feature physical educators, school leaders, physicians, and a parent who have all worked to promote physical education and community health in partnership with schools. Participants will learn practical strategies for when and how to engage parents and the role parents can play in advocating for physical education and physical activity in schools. Click here to read more about the upcoming webinar.

Register for the webinar today!

Speakers include:

Sandy Noel, retired physical educator and co-chair of the IAPO workgroup

Mark Peysakhovich, Senior Director of Government Relations at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and co-chair of the IAPO workgroup

Dan Phelps, Assistant Principal, Hononegah Community High School

Martha Carmen, Physical Education/Science Teacher, Edison Park Elementary School

Tim Sanborn, Cardiology Division, NorthShore University HealthSystem and Clinical Professor, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

Sandy Shackelford, parent from O’Fallon, Illinois

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Expanded Healthy Food Access Plan Backed by MN Health Advocates

Check out this article from the Public News Service! Learn about the new Good Food Access Fund campaign going on in Minnesota!

ST. PAUL, Minn. - As many people are planning for their next big holiday meal, health advocates say about 900,000 Minnesotans don't have access to affordable and nutritious foods. To help, several groups are backing an initiative called the Good Food Access Fund.

Lance Knuckles, community outreach director for the Community Reinvestment Fund, said the problem also includes about 200,000 kids in the state.

"A full 27 percent of Minnesota's youth between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese, due in part to the lack of access to healthy foods." Check out the rest of the article here

Photo: iStockPhoto

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