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Making it Better: Minnesota's Health Improvement Log

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Feb. 13, 2020

OSHII staffing update

alice and meredith

Temporary assignments announced

Two temporary assignments have been announced for the Community Initiatives unit.

Meredith Ahlgren will serve as acting supervisor and Alice Englin will serve as acting lead worker until a new supervisor is on board.

In addition to those new duties, they will continue to provide community specialist support to the local SHIP staff to which they are assigned.

Susan Michels, current Community Initiatives Unit supervisor, has accepted the position of director for the Carlton, Cook, Lake, St. Louis Community Health Board; her last day at the Minnesota Department of Health is Feb. 14. 

New pedestrian safety campaign being developed


Project team seeks to engage stakeholders

The Minnesota Department of Transportation in July will launch a new  statewide pedestrian safety campaign with compelling and inspirational messaging targeting people who walk and people who drive. The project includes statewide advertising, development of resource toolkits for local use, and multiple events throughout the state.

The project team is looking to engage local stakeholders in the Twin Cities metro and Greater Minnesota with a strong interest in pedestrian safety to:

  • Identify local hosts for launch events, prioritizing existing events, and communities/organization with the capacity and interest in taking this on.
  • Promote the campaign toolkit as a resource for local communities/organizations with an interest in using toolkit resources.

If you are interested, contact Ellen Pillsbury ( to be put in touch with the project team.

Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan survey


Give your feedback

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is updating its 2015 Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Strategic Plan. MnDOT wants your help to shape the future of Safe Routes to School in Minnesota!

The Strategic Plan will convey the vision, goals, strategies, and action steps for SRTS over the next five years. MnDOT is looking for your input to validate early findings and wants to hear more about how we can improve Minnesota’s SRTS.

The survey will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Visit the STRS Strategic Plan survey to participate.

American Association of Retired Persons Community Challenge Grant


Applications are due April 1

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Community Challenge grant is designed to fund quick actions that spark long-term change, and may support physical improvements, temporary demonstrations, or innovative programs and services. Applications are being accepted for projects to improve housing, transportation, public space, technology ("smart cities"), civic engagement, and more.

Grant winners will be notified in July and projects are to be completed by November of this year. Visit the AARP website for additional information, requirements, and an application.


Webinar: Working with Manufacturing from Recruitment to Retention

Date: Feb. 20
Time: 1 p.m.

Manufacturing employers have unique issues around their interest in wellness programs. Learn how to implement activities to a group that has needs around shift work, physical work, productivity, and health equity. Learn more about how to connect with manufacturing employers and how you can help them implement the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) in a meaningful way. Two local public health groups will share their experience as well.

Join the webinar at the MDH Webex page.

Webinar: Winter SHIP Schools Gathering

Date: March 2
Time: 9 a.m. – noon

There will be time for structured networking, a training on a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program, Making the Case for the School Health Index, as well as time for discussion.

Join the webinar at the MDH Webex page.

This week's Gem

PoP 2019 Pic

Thief River Falls kids ‘PoP’ for local produce

For two years in a row, the Thief River Falls Farmers Market has offered an incentive program to get more local kids buying and eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

When families participate in the Power of Produce (or PoP) Club, each week children received a $2 token to spend on fresh produce available at the market. Not only does the initiative encourage healthy eating habits early in life, it also has the potential to increase sales for local growers.

In 2018, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) staff in Pennington County, along with other local healthy eating advocates, received a grant through the University of Minnesota Extension to support the PoP Club at the Thief River Falls Farmers Market. This grant helped purchase tokens, pay a PoP Club program manager and reimburse market vendors. SHIP funding also supported the initiative.

The U of M Extension grant was only for the 2018 season, so supporters sought sponsors for 2019.  For this year’s season, they received funding from the Sanford Health Community Fund, Helmich Dental, Northrisk Partners, Red Lake Electric Round Up Grant and Thief River Falls Kiwanis Club.

Interest in the PoP Club is growing. In 2019, there were 324 participants who signed up, compared to 268 in 2018. This year, the market attracted 692 PoP visits, up from 503 in 2018. In addition, market vendors were reimbursed $1,247 for PoP purchases in 2019, up from $855 in 2018.

Feedback from vendors was also positive. Among the comments: “I noticed many more kids at the market this year” and “PoP gets families to the market.”