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Making it Better: Minnesota's Health Improvement Log

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Jan. 16, 2020

Safe Routes to School technical assistance available


Applications are due Feb. 14

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Demonstration Project Technical Assistance will support communities with existing SRTS plans in undertaking the process to plan, design and implement a SRTS demonstration project in their community.

Selected communities will participate in a professional facilitated workshop, develop a demonstration project concept and receive installation materials. This technical assistance includes all the drawings, specifications and permits required to implement the demonstration project in spring or fall 2020. Community members will be able to participate in project installation and evaluation. Applications are due Feb. 14.

Full details about this funding opportunity can be found on the SRTS Grants Page.

Safe Routes to School meet up planned

Gathering takes place on April 14

The 3rd Annual Safe Routes to School statewide convening is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, at the Willmar Conference Center in Willmar.

This free training will provide resources and examples in the areas of communication, engineering, equity, enforcement, and local examples of successful and innovative Safe Routes efforts. The day will be interactive and allow ample time to make connections with colleagues from across the state.

To register and learn more about the training, visit the Safe Routes MN 2020 Eventbrite webpage.

Walk! Bike! Fun! technical assistance opportunities


Schedule now being set up for winter and spring

BikeMN is setting up its schedule for Walk! Bike! Fun! free technical assistance offerings for this winter and spring. This includes Walk! Bike! Fun! Ambassador Trainings, Maintenance Trainings and an option for any educator to set up a conference call to consult with a Walk! Bike! Fun! expert.

Ambassador Training is designed to train members of the community to support local bike education activities. Fill out this Google form to request a training.

Maintenance Training gives educators and volunteers basic bike maintenance skills. Visit the BikeMN website and select “Maintenance Training” from the list of options on the form.

Phone an Expert provides an opportunity to get questions answered about the curriculum and the process of implementing Walk! Bike! Fun! in schools. Schedule a call with a Walk! Bike! Fun! trainer.

Training sessions for veteran Walk! Bike! Fun! teachers will focus on using adaptive bicycling equipment. This corresponds to the updated Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum to include information on adaptive bicycling. If you’re interested in hosting or attending a training, please reach out directly to Michelle Kiefer via email at

For more information, contact Kate Matusinec at

This week’s Gem


Blazing a trail for Farm to School efforts

The Mesabi East School District in Aurora is blazing a trail for Farm to School efforts in Northern Minnesota.

Rachel Doherty, a teacher at Mesabi East, started growing plants with students in a sunny, empty classroom a few years ago. In summer 2018, the school purchased a greenhouse, enabling students to get hands-on experience growing food. Microgreens, which were grown in the greenhouse, were served on the salad bar during school lunches. The students also grew plants for sale.

The local Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) played a key role in supporting that work. Ray Jobe with St. Louis County Public Health and Kelsey Gantzer with the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency’s Rutabaga Project helped the school launch its first year of procuring local food for school lunches by connecting staff with Farm to School resources and grant opportunities, reviewing grant proposals and connecting the school with local farmers. SHIP staff also assisted with the process of answering school leadership’s questions and helped to navigate food regulations.

This year, one meal a month at the school, which has nearly 1,000 students, features produce from several local farmers.

In addition to those Farm to School efforts, Mesabi East held four farmers markets during summer 2019. The markets were key in expanding food access in Aurora, a community that is 30 minutes away from the closest grocery store.

Through a school greenhouse, local produce in school lunches, and summer farmers market, students and the broader community have strengthened their local food economy and have greater access to and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.