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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!

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[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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May is Stroke Month: Become a Stroke Hero!

In the U.S. someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. We won’t stand idly by as this menacing disease claims our loved ones and independence. We humbly request your support as we rally the nation to create Stroke Heroes by teaching: 80% of most strokes can be prevented and stroke is largely treatable. Studies prove the faster a stroke patient is treated, the more likely they are able to recover without permanent disability. 

You don’t need superpowers to be a Stroke Hero. Start by controlling high blood pressure, the leading-controllable risk factor for stroke and learning the 5 Things Every Stroke Hero Should Know in effort to reduce your risk of having a stroke. 

Now that you have commanded the power to prevent stroke, prove you are ready to put an end stroke. Learn and share  F.A.S.T., the simple acronym used to teach the warning signs of stroke and to save lives. 

Activate your superpowers by taking the Stroke Hero-Superpower Quiz and prove are ready to join our league of Stroke Heroes. 

To learn more ways you can be a Stroke Hero, visit StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeHero.

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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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Do You Know How Much Sugar You're Eating or Drinking?

Guest Blogger: Claudia Goytia, Government Relations Director, Greater Los Angeles

Late in 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued dietary guidelines on added sugar intake.  These new dietary guidelines did not come about without a fight. Health advocates and the food and beverage industry played a significant role in shaping these dietary guidelines. 

 

We, the AHA and our partners, are doing our part to urge all Americans to have a greater understanding of added sugar in our diets and the impact on our health.  The USDA guidelines are a great start but based on AHA research the standards should be a little stronger, especially in regards to sugar.  Based off the scientific statement in Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association, we recommend limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than 100 calories per day for women and no more than 150 calories per day for men. That is 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men.

 

For more information about sugar and its impact on your health, please visit here.

 

Here are some tips for taking control of your sugar intake are: 

  • Understand where sugar is hiding in the food you eat.  Many items like bread, pasta and yogurt may have some kind of added sugar.
  • Know the different types of names sugar can be labeled as, including high corn fructose syrup, agave, sucrose, and others.  Please visit the link below for the complete list.  
  • Drink water and unsweetened beverages so that you are not adding extra calories to your meals.
  • Avoid sugary beverages (sodas, energy drinks and similar products) because they are the number one source of added sugar in our diet. The average American drinks nearly 50 gallons of sugary beverages a year, equaling nearly 39 pounds of liquid sugar.
  • If you crave sweets, have some fruit as a way to curb the desire for processed and added sugar. Fruits also provide fiber and other nutrients in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth.
  • For more tips on how to reduce you sugar intake, visit here.

 

As a local advocate working with community members, health coalitions, educators and policy makers to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, I have found that education on the topic of sugar intake is necessary in order to improve health in our community.  Change in behavior, policy and attitudes begins with a simple conversation on sugar and how it impacts our diets. 

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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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Time to Go Red!

Going Red is about much more than wearing red on National Wear Red Day. It’s about making a change. Encourage your family and friends to take small steps toward healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

 

Start by explaining “What it means to Go Red” by sharing the following acronym:

  • Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
  • Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.
  • Raise Your Voice: Advocate for more women-related research and education.
  • Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
  • Donate: Show your support with a donation of time or money.

 

Heart disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases, yet 80% of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented. Early screening, early detection and early treatment are key to lowering risk for cardiovascular disease. 

 

Testing should occur as follows:

  • Blood pressure – every regular health care visit starting at age 20
  • Cholesterol – every five years starting at age 20. More often if: total cholesterol is above 200; if you are a man older than 45 or a woman older than 50; if you’re a woman whose HDL is less than 50 or a man whose HDL is less than 40; if you have other cardiovascular risk factors
  • Weight/body mass index – every health care visit starting at age 20
  • Waist circumference – as needed starting at age 20
  • Blood glucose – every three years starting at age 45

 

You can learn more about your numbers and key health indicators with the Go Red Heart CheckUp.

 

For more information about Go Red for Women visit here.

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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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Jane Kolodinsky - Good food sells!

Telling legislators that french fries are the most common vegetable served to toddlers, AHA volunteer Jane Kolodinsky urged Senate Health and Welfare Committee members at a recent hearing to implement nutrition standards for restaurant kids meals.

Jane, the chair of UVM’s Department of Community Development and Applied economics, has published research on childhood obesity. Among her findings?  Going out to eat isn’t just a treat for families anymore. Away-from-home food accounts for nearly half of all food dollars spent. Improving the nutrition of that food can make a difference in the fight against obesity.

And does good food sell? You bet. Jane reported to the committee that a recent survey conducted about the nutrition improvements that were made in the food service at the UVM Medical Center found that the hospital now gets 14% of its business from people coming from outside the hospital just for the great food!

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