Power of Produce Clubs

Supporting local farmers and teaching children about health eating

Ever wonder how to get your kids interested in eating what’s on their plate? Do you have the desire to feed them local produce? Power of Produce (PoP) Clubs may be your opportunity!

PoP Clubs allow for children ages 4 to 12 to receive $2 in market bucks each week they attend the market. Kids receive a reusable bag to carry their fruits and vegetables throughout the program at the farmers market. The tokens can be used each week or saved up for larger purchases.

“We make sure to hand the token directly to the kid,” says Sandy Greninger, director of FYCC and sponsor of PoP Club at the Albertville Farmers Market. “That way, by the time the kid receives the token, chooses their vegetable, and hands their own token to the vendor, they are so invested in the process that they want to like their produce and will eat it when it comes to the table.”

Not only does PoP Club get local produce to kids, but it also supports the economic growth and development of local produce farmers. What a great opportunity to eat more veggies and support your neighbor!

“A successful PoP Club really depends on the investment of the vendors,” says Ellie Vanasse, who provides technical assistance for PoP Clubs through Wright County’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). “The produce farmers we have locally are fantastic; they interact with each child that comes to their table. They share stories about the food, let kids taste new produce, and even provide recipes and advice on how to prepare it.”

With the support of SHIP, Wright County Area United Way, local businesses, and local farmers markets, children have the buying power to purchase with locally grown food. The PoP Club has been launched at farmers markets in Albertville, Howard Lake, Maple Lake, and Monticello!

Bike Fleet

Children between the ages of 10 and 14 have the highest rate of bicycle crashes for all age groups - but the majority of crashes could be avoided through better education of the rules for the road. In mid-2015 Wright County’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) partnered with Monticello Community Education to create the Wright County Bicycle Education Fleet, which is being used to teach bike safety education to students a five Wright County middle schools for the very first time. The Bike Fleet is a 20-ft trailer that holds 36 kid and adult-size bikes. It also includes helmets and all of the equipment and supplies necessary to use and maintain the fleet.

Physical education teachers at all five middle schools attended an all-day training on Minnesota's Walk! Bike! Fun! Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Curriculum. Each school has access to the fleet for 2-4 weeks at a time during the Spring or Fall to teach the Walk!Bike!Fun! curriculum to their 5th-8th grade students. Community groups such as scout groups, church groups, and summer youth programs are able to rent the fleet during the summer when it is not in use by the schools. The fleet is owned and operated by Monticello Community Education.

Reports from users indicate the Bike Fleet is an effective and popular teaching tool. One Annandale Middle School 7th grader was so inspired by the bike unit that he led his family on a 15-mile ride the following weekend. A few students are learning to ride a bike for the first time; others are finding new-found freedom as they learn to ride safely. When not being used by schools, the bike fleet is available to rent through Monticello Community Education. Individual bikes can also be rented.

Baby Cafe

Free drop-in breastfeeding support group

More than 75 percent of U.S. mothers start breastfeeding, but nearly two-thirds of those moms do not reach their own goals. Baby Cafés aim to improve those rates by offering information and support to pregnant and breastfeeding moms in a casual, drop-in setting.

Using Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) funding, in early 2016 Wright County Public Health partnered with Buffalo Hospital to open Wright County’s first Baby Café. The Café is open every Wednesday from 10:00am - 12:00pm and is staffed by Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) from both organizations.

4 Square Gardens

Using gardening at childcares to teach kids about vegetables and healthy eating habits

Childcare gardening is a great way to introduce children to the flavor of fresh vegetables, caring for plants and harvesting the fruits of their labors. It also provides many opportunities for physical activity, from digging in the soil to watering the plants.

With these benefits in mind, Wright County’s Statewide Health Improvement PartnershipHea (SHIP) worked with childcare providers in Wright County to plant a 4 Square Garden with children in their care and promote nutritional messages among families and staff.

SHIP staff also provided four hours of training for childcare providers. The training included quality improvement and policy development related to healthy eating and nutrition education for young children, basic gardening principles, food safety, garden safety, and integrated pest management. Each site agreed to plant “kid friendly” vegetables (vegetables that can be harvested, washed and eaten in their natural state), develop a healthy food policy statement, and continue meeting with SHIP staff, including for an evaluation training. The training also provided childcare staff with hands-on learning activities such as a “Throw in the Snow” gardens, newspaper seedling pots, and lettuce planters for children to take home totheir families.

Wright County Public Health Receives Gold Breastfeeding Friendly Award

A gold level award recognizes the highest possible achievement

BUFFALO, MN - Wright County Public Health has received a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department Award from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for its contributions to the health of mothers and their babies.

The designation acknowledges a county health department’s commitment to acting as a model for the community by supporting healthy families.

Awards are designated at gold, silver and bronze levels, which correspond to the number of steps an organization met in a 10-step process.

After three years of work, the county was recognized at the gold level. In addition to internal policy and practice changes, Public Health helped local schools, workplaces, and child cares attain Breastfeeding Friendly status and supported culturally appropriate breastfeeding support opportunities within the county.

“By being a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department, we are helping the community,” says Casey Henre, a supervisor for Wright County Public Health. “Breastfeeding is something that benefits not just babies and their families, but also impacts communities. Healthier babies mean less sick time taken by parents, lower healthcare costs, and a healthier community.”

Breastfeeding is a foundational way to ensure that babies receive optimal nutrition during the first formative years of life. Studies show that infants who are breastfed have better health outcomes as they grow.

MDH’s Breastfeeding Friendly recognition program is supported by the state Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP).

To learn more about the application process for the Breastfeeding Friendly recognition program, visit www.health.state.mn.us/breastfeedingfriendly.

Buffalo Area Dementia Friends

Judy Weis, Wright County resident, knows dementia well. Four years ago, her husband was diagnosed with it, causing devastation and overwhelming confusion about what to do next. After research and conversation, they agreed that they would be open about his diagnosis. Weis joined a support group and her husband joined a respite group for fellowship, activities, and socialization.

“As I started to experience my own struggles as a caregiver,” reflects Weis, “I also was hearing the struggles of others in my support group who were dealing with this terrible disease.” Weis was traveling to Becker to attend the support group but felt something needed to be done closer to Buffalo.

She became aware of ACT on Alzheimer’s, a national organization that has a Dementia-Friendly Community initiative program. With the help of a close family friend, Weis started pulling together community organizations with a mutual goal of molding the Buffalo area into a Dementia-Friendly Community.

One of the first organizations Weis paired up with was Elim Care. Her husband was attending the Adult Day Program at Parkview Care Center in Buffalo, and Weis was in touch with the director. Others joined and a group called the Buffalo Area Dementia Friends Action Team was formed in 2016.

The group is currently a four-phase process consisting of assessing current dementia-related strengths and gaps in the area, analyzing the responses, and developing and implementing an action plan.

“I felt it was important to have the availability of supportive resources and programs for people with dementia and their caregivers,” says Weis. According to her, the ultimate goal of this group is have a community that is “informed, safe, and respectful of people living with dementia and their families, has supportive features across all community sectors, and fosters quality of life for everyone.”

Buffalo Area Dementia Friends Action Team is comprised of representatives from the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, Elim Care, Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, Stellis Health, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Guardian Angels Elim Home Care & Hospice, Allina Health, Zion Lutheran Church, Prairie River Home Care, Buffalo Community Center, Great River Regional Library, and Wright County.

For more information, please call 612-597-9472. This group is financially supported by the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Minnesota Department of Health.

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