Eat Healthy

Eat Healthy

Supporting and creating opportunities for healthy eating in central Minnesota

A key contributing factor to Minnesota’s obesity and overweight epidemic is unhealthy eating, including diets high in fats, sugars and salt. The result is increased rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis and some types of cancers. Poor nutrition can be caused by a variety of factors including a lack of access to healthy and affordable foods and unhealthy eating habits formed as children.

At Feeling Good MN, we are working with partners at the regional and state level to implement policies and practices designed to make the healthy choice the easy and affordable choice when it comes to healthier foods for Minnesotans.

What We’ve Done & Where We’re Going

Feeling Good MN is working in schools and in central Minnesota communities to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains through smarter school lunch programs, revitalized farmers markets and productive gardens that not only help to increase healthy eating but also help to build communities. That work is having direct impact on central Minnesota families, and especially children in the region who have experienced significant declines in rates of obesity and overweight.

While we at Feeling Good MN are proud of our achievements in improving health through our healthy eating initiatives, we have no plans to relax our efforts. We will continue our work to enhance access to healthy and affordable foods in the region by partnering with schools, nutrition specialists, food retailers and community organizations.

Healthier Communities Start Here

Learn more about the initiatives we are working on to encourage healthier eating in central Minnesota communities.

Child in cafeteria School Nutrition

Recognizing that healthy eating habits begin at a young age, Feeling Good MN is working with schools and nutritionists to not only increase access to healthy foods in schools but to increase the likelihood of students eating those foods.

Numerous studies have found that individual eating habits are formed during the early years of life and that access to foods and the eating behaviors of family members and peers have a direct impact on what and how much an individual eats. The school day creates numerous opportunities for children to not only access healthy foods but to also learn healthy eating behaviors.

Smarter Lunch Rooms

Feeling Good MN recognizes that creating healthy eating habits not only requires access to healthy foods but also increasing the desire to eat those foods. We are partnering with schools in St. Cloud, Long Prairie and Melrose as well as with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program educators to create lunch room environments and food marketing opportunities that increase the likelihood that students will eat school lunches and try new foods.

To learn more about our work as part of the smarter lunchroom movement click here.

Farm to School

Feeling Good MN has long been an advocate of Minnesota Farm to School at both the local and state level. We have advocated for the program because it addresses access to healthy, locally grown foods, increased markets for local growers and teaches youth where their food comes from. We are also working to seek out opportunities to increase opportunities for local producers to increase their access to grocery stores, larger institutions and childcare settings.

To learn more about our work and the work of others to increase access to locally grown foods click here.

Healthy Food Access in Communities

There is a direct correlation between how easy it is to access healthy and affordable foods and what people choose to eat. Recognizing that fact, Feeling Good MN is working in central Minnesota communities to increase the access residents have to healthy foods, thereby helping to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Healthy Food Access

By creating opportunities for central Minnesota citizens to more readily access fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, they will increase their consumption of those foods and as a result will be healthier and more fit. Farmers markets, community gardens and healthy offerings in grocery stores are among the strategies we are employing to give central Minnesota residents more opportunities to access healthy and affordable foods.

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are an easy source of healthy, affordable and locally grown foods. In addition to promoting healthier eating they are also beneficial to local farmers, providing new sources of income. They also help to teach kids where their food comes from. Working with a number of local partners, we are helping to revitalize existing farmers markets and start new markets in communities. One of the programs that we are partnering with the University of Minnesota on is the Power of Produce Kids Club (PoP), which provides tokens to kids to purchase their own produce at farmers markets thereby helping to teach them the importance of buying healthy foods.

To learn more about the PoP program and the success it is having click here.

Community Gardens

A generation or two ago, nearly every home had a backyard garden where they grew fruits and vegetables to help supplement their diets. The advent of fast food and processed prepackaged foods caused most of those gardens to disappear. We are working in communities throughout Central Minnesota to bring back the power and benefits of the community garden. One of the projects we are involved in pairs seniors and youth in Sauk Centre in a community garden mentoring program. The garden, which is wheel-chair accessible, is making fresh produce available to community members, with surplus produce being donated to the local food shelf.

To learn more about the Sauk Centre community garden and the positive impact it is having on the community, visit their Facebook page.

Retail Partnerships

Recognizing that knowledge is power, especially when it comes to the purchase of healthy foods, we are working with Coborn’s and their Dietitian’s Choice program to increase consumer awareness on what foods support health and wellness. The program helps grocery shoppers more easily identify foods that are lower in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars, and foods that are good sources of lean protein, heart healthy fats, whole grains and fiber. The program even provides weekly sales on certain Dietitian’s Choice products to further increase consumer incentives to eat healthier.

To learn more about the Dietitian’s Choice program watch this video.

Statewide Food Access Initiatives

CentraCare and Feeling Good MN are key leaders in helping to pass state policies designed to increase access to healthy and affordable foods throughout Minnesota. Working with the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition, we have advocated for more affordable school lunches in Minnesota, increased funding for the Farm to School Program and the creation of the Minnesota Good Food Access Program. The Good Food Access Program provides funds to assist grocery stores and small food retailers in making physical improvements and purchasing equipment in order to increase access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for underserved communities, including those in central Minnesota.

To learn more about the Minnesota Good Food Access program watch video here.