The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) aims for all people in Minnesota to experience a fair, equitable and nourishing food system that is responsive to change.
SHIP strategic directions
- Work in partnership with the community to assess and shape their food system, considering cultural diversity and opportunities across many sectors.
- Strengthen connections to increase healthy and culturally appropriate food access.
- Work to build a resilient local food system that benefits consumers and producers, while protecting natural resources.
Dakota County healthy eating partners
Dakota County SHIP works with schools, worksites, health care systems, community food partners and childcare centers to create healthy eating policies, programs and activities. If you or your organization would like to discuss how Dakota County could support you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dakota County works with school districts to increase access to more healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, and decrease eating foods that have high levels of sodium, saturated fats and added sugar. Examples of evidence-based activities Dakota County helps with include:
- Summer feeding programs
- Healthy food learning opportunities
- Second chance or share carts where students can leave unopened, unwanted food to be redistributed to other students
- Healthy vending machine options
- Local wellness policies to match federal USDA Food and Nutrition regulations and standards for school meals
- Food recovery and storage equipment
School success story
In the 2021-2022 school year, West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools (ISD 197) received a grant to launch a share cart program at several schools. The carts address food waste prevention and food security within the schools. Students place unopened, unwanted breakfast and lunch items in the share cart. These items can be taken by other students during the day. SHIP also funded the purchase of refrigerators to store unused food items.
The project has extended to all five elementary schools, both middle schools and one high school within the district. On average, 30 items are redistributed each day.
Dakota County works with professional worksites to provide assistance to employers in the areas of SHIP focus. Worksites include local businesses, organizations, school districts and cities. Worksites have the opportunity to learn from each other to create new programs and policies. Examples of healthy activities that Dakota County helps with are:
- Workplace gardens
- Healthy vending machine options
- Community supported agriculture (CSA)
- Healthy beverage access
- Healthy meeting policies, including nutrition and movement
- Wellness committee programs
- Lactation Support
Health care systems
Dakota County works with health care systems and community partners to help families with food insecurity, using a program called FoodRx. If a food insecure patient or family opts in, FoodRx helps connect them to food resources. The health care location also provides a food insecurity box that includes non-perishable, healthy, grocery items.
Currently, Dakota County partners with Second Harvest Heartland to provide FoodRx at Children's Minnesota - West St. Paul Clinic.
Those who qualify can get help to sign up for food programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Those who opt in will also receive information about nearby food shelves, community meals and farmers markets.
Community food partners
Dakota County works with community food partners to connect residents to resources and opportunities. Examples of this include:
- Accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT)
- Expanding food options to be more culturally diverse
- Creating community garden programs
- Supporting diversity, equity and inclusion trainings for food shelf employees and volunteers
- Sourcing healthy and fresh foods at corner stores
- Partnering with Farmers Markets to provide programs such as Power of Produce and Market Bucks
- Partnering with organizations such as:
Child care centers
Historically, Dakota County has worked with child care centers to assist with healthy eating options and programs, including: