Hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute (HFHL), the Minnesota Food Charter Network supports and fosters shared action and capacity to increase access to healthy, safe, and affordable food for all Minnesotans. The Network has partners across the state and deep connections in each of Minnesota’s diverse agricultural regions.
With funders such as the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Health, University of Minnesota Extension, USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Network has tremendous institutional buy-in to achieve its mission.
“All of the programmatic work we’ve been able to do begins and ends with community engagement,” said HFHL Director Kristine Igo. Her philosophy was reflected during the formation of the Charter, which involved a nine-month public input process resulting in strategies to promote healthy food skills, environments, and infrastructure – including the promotion and public education of food issues among elected officials in an effort to build support among decision makers.
The Network has also made a huge impact on producers and consumers. “The Network helped us create space for conversations around food access in Cass and Clay counties,” said Megan Myrdal, Network member and project coordinator of the Cass Clay Food Systems Initiative. “We’ve seen more grassroots community engagement, from urban farming to local organizing.”