— Ellie Vanasse, Crow River Food Council Member
I sat at my first Crow River Food Council meeting about two years ago, surrounded by a passionate group of school workers, farmers, local health care representatives, chefs, community members, and more. Amazed by the diversity of background and perspective in the room, I thought to myself, “I’m going to love working with and learning from this group.”
Not only was I new on the Council, but I was also new to my position as a Public Health Nurse with Wright County (and new to the area!). I had been searching for a way to marry my passion for local food with my work in public health, which made this opportunity with the Council a great fit. What makes this possible is my work on the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health that focuses on obesity prevention and tobacco cessation.
The Council was established by a few like-minded people who wanted to intentionally strengthen the local, healthy food environment in Wright County. With the support of SHIP since its inception, the Council has done just that; this is a reliable group of people who work to ensure consumers have access to healthy food from local producers. SHIP funds staff positions on the Council to coordinate projects at places like farmers markets, local food retailers, and food shelves. My goal, and the goal of SHIP, is to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice by adapting the policies, systems, and environments that impact the availability and accessibility of healthy food.
Since 2009, Community Health Boards across the state have received SHIP funding to promote active living, healthy eating, and tobacco cessation. We know that good health is created where we live, work, learn, and play; therefore, Wright County Public Health partners with schools, workplaces, child care providers, hospitals, and communities to make long-term, sustainable changes. My work, and that of my colleagues, is all about using local resources to enhance opportunities for our community to live happier and healthier lives.