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Health Challenge for Minnesota Families Starts in September

The Minnesota News Connection posted an article today on the Life Is Why Family Health Challenge!

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The number of children who are overweight or obese in Minnesota has been swelling for decades, but a month-long event starting Tuesday aims to gain some traction in reversing that trend.

The Life is Why Family Health Challenge is broken down into four themed weeks. American Heart Association volunteer Carrie McLeod says the first component is focused on the foods people buy at the grocery store and is called My Cart is Why.

"Which helps your family to understand the importance of fruits and vegetables and has some fun, easy activities for the children to take part it," she explains. "So that it can really be a fun thing and not an 'Oh, gosh, you have to eat your broccoli' kind of thing." Continue reading here

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A Safe Path Back to School: Safe Routes to School 101

Kids are more sedentary today than they were a generation ago. This is contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic, but in many cases it is due to the environment that surrounds them. Building Safe Routes to School (SRTS) brings street-scale improvements to neighborhoods so that children have greater opportunities to be active—and parents can rest easy that their child is out of harm’s way when heading to school. These routes also provide a fun and convenient way for families, neighbors and friends to connect while being active.

 

TAKE ACTION – Encourage your lawmakers to give our kids the green light on health by supporting funding for the Safe Routes to School programs

The federal SRTS program, established in 2005, provides funding for communities to implement these types of projects. However, recent changes have cut federal funding to the program, meaning states must now play a bigger role in supporting Safe Routes to School initiatives.

Let your lawmaker know that increasing state-level funding is key to supporting these kinds of improvements. It will enable communities to implement healthy changes to their environments and eliminate common barriers to physical activity for children.

For more information on how you can help our kids get active and help reverse dangerous obesity rates visit: www.healthieriowa.com

 

 

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Local MN Foods Make Way to Cafeterias!

Check out this article! Many Minnesota kids returning to school in the upcoming weeks will find local produce and meats in their lunch line! 

ST. PAUL, Minn. - School children across Minnesota will be returning to class in just a few weeks, and once again this year they'll find more local foods when going through the lunch line. Erin McKee VanSlooten, a senior program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, says every year the institute has tracked the data for Farm to School, the number of districts taking part has gone up.

"The most recent information we have from the USDA show there are 208 districts in Minnesota participating," she says. "Which means there are 609,000 kids that are getting local food from different districts across the state."

VanSlooten says that has a significant impact on the local economy, with more than $12 million from school meal budgets now going to Minnesota farmers. Continue reading here

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August Recess Visit: Congressman Randy Hultgren

You're the Cure hero, Heather Gavras is puzzled why some Members of Congress are trying to roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals. On August 4th, she stopped by Congressman Randy Hultgren's office to deliver a special puzzle, which shows that nutritious foods "fit" into a successful school day for every child. Heather urged the Congressman to reauthorize the Heathy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, in order to protect the progress made since the law was enacted in 2010. Since passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, kids are eating 16% more vegetables and 23% more fruit. It is vital that we protect the nutrition standards that are helping give our children the longer, healthier futures they deserve, by supporting the reauthorization of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Thank you Heather for delivering this important message!

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Keep Moving Toward Healthy School Meals!

Members of Mission Readiness, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Seiben and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Schulstad wrote an Op/Ed in MinnPost yesterday on making sure schools are serving healthy food, check it out!

Two retired Air Force generals and a school food-service director would appear, at first glance, to have little in common. But our experiences have led us to the same conclusion: America's childhood obesity epidemic must be reversed, and healthy school meals are critical to our success.

In Minnesota, more than 14 percent of children ages 10 to 17, and more than 25 percent of adults (including more than 1 in 5 adults here in Hennepin County), are obese. Obesity is also a leading reason why 69 percent of young Minnesotans are ineligible for military service.

What accounts for such alarming numbers? In short, too many children eat too much junk food and don't get enough exercise, trends that often continue into adulthood. In addition to the negative health effects, this problem threatens to diminish our military strength and our national security. Continue Reading Here

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2015 Minnesota Legislative Session Wrap Up

The 2015 Legislative Session has come to an end and we’ve had another great year working hard to push for heart-health policies in Minnesota. We have many reasons to celebrate the work in fighting for a healthier Minnesota!

The Wins
As the dust settles, we are excited to share the big policy wins the state saw in heart-health this year. Thank you for your passion and work in making these happen:
    

   • Minnesota Stroke System: Minnesota is now home to one of the country’s most comprehensive stroke systems with the passage of the EMS Stroke Protocols bill. This bill makes it a requirement for all EMS systems in the state to have updated protocols to treat and transfer stroke victims so they receive the best possible care available in the fastest amount of time to reduce the chances of death or disability from stroke. The system also became stronger this year, when the legislature dedicated $350,000 in the budget of dedicated funding to run the stroke program. Previously, the system was funded by a federal grant from the CDC that the state had to continually re-apply for and that has always changing parameters. This new dedicated funding will allow the basics of the system to be run into the future and shows that the state is dedicated to ensuring Minnesota has a successful system to treat stroke ensuring the best possible outcome for its residents. 
   • Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Funding: We did it! Because of advocates like you, we were able to keep the $35 million/biennium in the base budget and keep SHIP fully funded this year. More importantly, we will be able to continue to see the great outcomes of the program as it works to combat obesity and reduce tobacco use in almost every corner of our state!
   • Health Equity Data Analysis: We were able to advocate for $250,000 per year to implement better data reporting on race, ethnicity and language in an effort to better identify responses to Health Disparities in Minnesota. With better data reporting focusing on disparities, more attention can be made to the population in the most need of intervention, programs and resources.
   • MNCare: Thousands of Minnesotans will be able to continue to benefit from MNCare thanks to your loud voices! After an earlier proposal to eliminate MNCare all together, the session ends with MNCare intact! While, portions of the bill changed in negotiations and some participants will see increases to their premiums and co-pays, the program will remain, which is much better than the elimination of these services.

Still Fighting
While it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying or involvement by advocates like you, we are still in the fight for a few of the policy areas we started at the beginning of session. Some of these could be revived during a special session, others we will attack again next year, as we know heart disease and stroke don’t stop, and so we can’t stop fighting against it!     

   • Active Transportation: After many emails, phone calls, meetings, rallies, postcards, petitions, etc., the legislature only passed a "lights-on" transportation bill which means there is no new funding for biking and walking programs or other transportation priorities this year. Even though we didn’t get a comprehensive multi-modal transportation bill this session, it is because of the hard work of many advocates like you that we have laid unprecedented groundwork and mobilization of bike/walk advocates from across the state. We will continue to build statewide momentum for active transportation for 2016-17.
   • Physical Education: Despite our best efforts and great hearings in the House and Senate, the PE bill, which would improve PE for all Minnesota students, did not make it into the final K-12 Education omnibus bill. However, Gov. Dayton has vetoed the K-12 Education bill for other reasons so the next step is a special session on education. During this special session, we will have an opportunity to urge that the PE bill be included in the revived K-12 bill. And if we aren’t heard during special session, we will certainly be back next session fighting for better PE in Minnesota!
   • EMS/Pre-hospital Data Collection and Reporting: This bill would have shifted pre-hospital data that is already being collected from the EMS Regulatory Board to the Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health to allow for the data to be better utilized and shared with partners form across the state looking to do quality and program improvement in pre-hospital aspects of acute care. This bill had a rough start this year and also a sizable fiscal note. We will continue to work with our EMS partners on this bill next session.

Thanks for another GREAT year! YOU ARE THE CURE!

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MN Advocates Attended National Lobby Day in D.C.!

On May 11 and 12, the Midwest Affiliate joined more than 380 advocates in Washington D.C. for You’re the Cure on the Hill national lobby day. We had 53 volunteers 10 of which were youth advocates, 20 staff representing all 11 states in the affiliate who stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. We had seven great advocates representing Minnesota this year: Alex and Ben Mitchell, Carrie-Ann Canney, Colin and Maddie Roberts, Dale Wakasugi and Lisa Hoffman.
In all, the entire event conducted 293 meetings with Capitol Hill lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards, and also to make cardiovascular disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health. We were able to meet with staff and several Members of Congress throughout the day. Team Minnesota had some great meetings with staff in DC sharing their stories. Check out more photos from the event here.

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Step Up with Minnesotans on National Walking Day!

Today is National Walking Day! Grab your friends, family or coworkers and get active on this beautiful spring day!  Check out the article below posted by the Public News Source.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Across Minnesota today, children and adults will be taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. This is National Walking Day from the American Heart Association.

State Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said it's also the kickoff of Minnesota's 30 Days of Biking Challenge, encouraging people to be active every day in April and make it a habit going forward.

"We know that we have a childhood obesity and adult obesity issue in this country," he said. "We're trying to bring awareness to the need for good health, and one way to get that is through safe walking and also biking."
Continue reading here

 

Photo: Elizabeth/Flickr

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