BLEND is in Long Prairie!

U of M Extension SNAP-ED Community Partnership Funding which helped bring people to the table and develop strategies to impact community health.

Community Supported Agriculture

This last summer, we piloted a Share Health Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Twenty-five participants were chosen based on a food insecurity screening. Each week, participants not only picked up their CSA box, but could learn cooking techniques and recipes from our SNAP educators. Pre- and post-assessments revealed that entire families benefitted from the experience: children experienced new foods, family members chose fresh vegetables at the store, and cooking together meant more bonding.

Farmer’s Market

The entire community had the chance to explore these same lessons through a revitalized Long Prairie Farmer’s Market. A change of location, increased vendor consistency, and better marketing led to a weekly average of 200 visitors. Students from the Long Prairie Grey Eagle High School were also engaged at the Farmer’s Market Book Day this summer by preparing free butternut squash soup and an assortment of vegetable sushi. The Minnesota Lieutenant Governor, Tina Smith, gave her compliments to the soup and sushi when she visited the market.

Community Wellness Fair and Long Prairie Wellness Network

A community Wellness Fair with 35 booths highlighted Long Prairie events, such as expos, a local 5k, BLEND Fit Kids Club 1k, and a Bike Rodeo. Additionally, the development of the Long Prairie Wellness Network will continue the efforts. This network began with 25 citizens attending leadership training through the Blandin Foundation, and these participants quickly realized the need to prioritize community wellness. The current Long Prairie Wellness Network has 38 diverse members who create strategies to achieve local health goals. The objectives and timelines were chosen based on data from the Todd County Health Assessment and CentraCare Health’s Community Health Needs Assessment. Examples of goals include: development and expansion of opportunities for access to healthy food, recruitment of volunteers for specific projects and events, and provision of opportunities for physical activity.

Fare for All

We are proud to say that one method we are progressing in within these goals is Long Prairie’s participation in Fare for All. While Long Prairie does not have its own site at this time, Fare for All spreads the goodness by having satellite sites. While the official sites do not require pre-registration, the satellite sites ask for pre-orders about a week prior and these orders are separated from the general inventory. Then, at the nearest official site (for this community, it is Little Falls), the pre-orders are picked up and able to be distributed at a local site. In Long Prairie, the current distribution is at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Believe it or not, all of these outreaches are recent—most within the last year! Much appreciation to our passionate volunteers, participants, and staff for organizing these wonderful efforts! We are excited to continue the health and wellness work in Long Prairie to make it a better place to live, work, learn, and play for all!