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For over a year, the Aitkin City Park Committee has been collaborating with Confluence to help create a master plan and concept map of the Aitkin City Park.

What is a master plan? A master plan is a conceptual layout for a site that considers placement and relationships of facilities, plans for implementation, and acknowledges future growth.

The Aitkin City Park Master Plan will help establish a 20–year vision for the City Park to ensure that it is prioritizing the needs, desires and interests of the community today and the next 20 years based on anticipated demographic, economic, and social changes that could affect recreation trends and preferences.The plan balances the park system needs, desires and interests of the community today, while also ensuring the park system is managed, maintained, and developed with a sustainable and season-focused approach.

The vision for the Aitkin City Park outlined in the plan is the result of an open and transparent planning process. Key stakeholders and community members were directly involved at key steps of the planning process to learn about project goals, assist in crafting and evaluating alternatives, and provide input on future recommendations.

Thank you to the following individuals for their hard work and dedication with the planning of the Aitkin City Park Master Plan & Concept Map: Jason Henke (Aitkin City Council); Julie Miller (Aitkin City Council); Lon Nicko (Aitkin Street Department); Amanda Lowe (Aitkin City Park Committee Member).

11x17 Master Plan Package_DRAFT 2023-08-30 (4)
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The Community Food Shelf at First Lutheran Church, Aitkin, is officially certified as a SuperShelf.

The SuperShelf program transforms food shelves, offering a welcoming, positive grocery store-like experience to clients and bringing good food to all.

SuperShelf is a PSE approach that transforms food shelves to create a welcoming environment in which to access healthy foods using a values-based approach. The SuperShelf approach is rooted in evidence-based practices and relies on collaborative partnerships between food shelves, University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed, and hunger relief organizations. LPH SHIP will work in partnership with the SuperShelf Team at the University of Minnesota Extension to provide support and technical assistance to food shelves throughout the SuperShelf transformation process.

The framework of a SuperShelf uses behavioral economics to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice, while promoting and respecting individual choice. “We’re excited to work with SuperShelf to build on work we’ve already started here at First Lutheran Church Community Food Shelf,” said Laura Smith, Community Food Shelf coordinator. “We know other food shelves that have undertaken the SuperShelf transformation have seen an increase in the nutritional quality of foods available and selected by clients, and we hope to do the same in our community.”

The transformation process has taken several months. Smith has worked with a SuperShelf consultant from the University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition team.

The food shelf will put into practice the six-step methodology that makes up the SuperShelf transformation, which includes:

  • Increasing the quantity, accessibility and variety of better foods at the location;

  • Reconfiguring food shelf layout to give prominence to fruits, veggies and fewer processed foods;

  • Changing food categories to encourage selection of better options;

  • Showcasing and promoting better foods by spotlighting them, providing recipes and samples;

  • Developing policy to sustain practices and protecting supply to avoid inventory issues;

  • Evaluating changes and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Funding for this project was made possible by the Minnesota Department of Health from the BRIC (Building Resilient Inclusive Communities) Grant. This grant was awarded to Aitkin County CARE in partnership with Aitkin County SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program).

Laura has been the manager at the food shelf for about 4.5 years. Her favorite part of the transformation is the overall inside transformation. Next goal is that the SuperShelf will be known as one of many food shelves committed to the community. When not at the church, she enjoys to read, sew and walk!

Thank you Laura for your hard work and willingness to help increase accessibility of fresh produce and nutritious food to our community! You rock!

The Community Food Shelf at First Lutheran Church is open the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. This is a volunteer-run food shelf and your help is needed with the Super Shelf. Call Smith at 218-821-7159 to learn about volunteer opportunities.

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