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Think Healthy Thursday: St Paul MN Local Focus on Sustainable Food

It takes a village to raise a child – we’ve all heard it. In St Paul, Minnesota the focus is on raising healthy children. The City of St Paul has just unveiled a website that promotes and explains many of the Cities’ Healthy and Local Food programs and policies

Food is a vital component to making a sustainable community.  Supporting the local economy by buying from Minnesota farmers and being healthy through access to nutritious food is a goal of the City of Saint Paul.  With an activist community around food issues, Saint Paul is creating an environment that is supportive and encouraging of increased consumption, production and distribution of healthy, sustainable and locally grown food.

The City has created spaces to learn about how to grow a garden using public spaces, public places that support gardening and composting and a range of health-center programs that help the City's other programs tie back into healthy gardening. For example the Saint Paul Downtown Farmers' Market accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

There’s also a big Farm-to-School effort…

In 2008, Saint Paul Public Schools joined a national partnership funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called Food FOCUS, or Food Options for Children in Urban Schools. In September and October of 2010, the school district purchased 165,000 pounds of local produce.  The schools continually look to expand local offerings.

Community rec centers are in on the goodness as well…

Saint Paul Recreation Centers, in partnership with Saint Paul Public Schools, have been serving free healthy meals in our community for 20 years.  In 2011 the program was expanded to every Recreation Center, serving a total of 75,000 meals that summer. The free meals are open to kids 18 and under and people with disabilities.

The Farmer’s Market culture is thriving in St Paul as well. The State of Minnesota maintains a directory of local farmers and farmers’ markets. The city is creating a database of available public land for gardening. They have a list of community kitchens, should you need help with canning or otherwise processing your produce. They also provide low cost services, such a soil inspection for private gardens.

In St Paul gardening boosts healthy kids and families, healthy economies and a healthy community spirit.

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