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Healthy Eating Strategy

Healthy eating is largely predicated on the ability or inability to access healthier food choices. The availability of affordable, appealing, healthy food options, coupled wit the knowledge needed to make an informed choice, will help Minnesotans eat foods more consistent with the U.S Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This strategy focuses on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables while reducing consumption of saturated fats, sodium and added sugars. The goal is to increase access to and selection of healthy foods to improve health and reduce chronic disease for all. 

Farmers Market

Increase access to and availability  of farmers markets in communities with the greatest need, for example, where access to affordable fruits and vegetables is challenging. Farmers markets can:

  • Give growers an opportunity to bring valuable resources for health and well-being to the community. 

  • Provide the community venue for community engagement and networking. 

  • Advance health equity

Public health's role in farmers market varies greatly and evolves over time. Examples include: starting up a market, sustaining a market, or helping a market to increase access for people in the community who have the least access to healthy food or have high rates of diet-related disease. 

Resources to help you get started


Community Based        Agriculture

Community-based agriculture can be a single piece of land cultivated and tended collectively by a group of people, or it can be a series of individual/plots that members of a community use to grow produce. Some community-based agriculture plots grow fruits, vegetables and herbs and dedicate a portion to be sold at farmers market to pride a revenue stream to purchase seeds, tools, insurance, mulch or water. Many donate produce to food shelves and other emergency food programs. 


Community-based agriculture can have several significant benefits for a community including:

  • Providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development

  • Stimulating social interaction

  • Reducing family food budgets

  • Creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education

  • Preserving green space

  • Creating income opportunities and economic development. 

Resources to help you get started


Emergency Food Programs

Emergency food programs are generally delivered by community-based, advocacy organizations and religious organizations around Minnesota.  


Those with limited incomes often find it difficult or impossible to purchase healthy foods due to cost, limited availability and limited access. Food shelves can provide such individuals with healthy choices they may not otherwise have, resulting in improved eating habits and improved health. 


To increase access, availability and selection of healthier foods provided through emergency food programs by implementing strategies that educate decision-makers, donors, suppliers, staff and volunteers; by helping hunger relief organizations create guidelines for and promotion of healthier food options.

Resources to help you get started


A convenience store is a small store that stocks and sells everyday items such as groceries, soft drinks and tobacco products. It may be part of a gas station and can be located in urban or rural areas. Many times it is the only food outlet for several miles. 


Many rural communities and some cities do not have nearby food sources or stores offering healthy, affordable options. Sometimes convenience stores offer convenient ready-to-eat foods that are high in saturated fat, sodium and added sugar and offer few if any fruits and vegetables. 


To increase access to, selection of, and demand for healthier options in convenience stores.

Resources to help you get started


Food Retail- Convenience Stores


Good Food Sold Here Partnership

If you are a manager or owner of a small convenience store or gas station (three registers or less) and are interested in  receiving technical assistance, training and grant funding to increase the availability of healthy foods in your store and to engage your customers around their food and beverage preference, apply now for the Good Food Sold Here


Hosting a Food Drive? 

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Food Drive Toolkit

To take the guesswork out of how to organize a food drive, Aitkin County SHIP Program has developed a toolkit for you to use. The toolkit includes the following:

  • Information on Food Shelves located in Aitkin County

  • List of recommended food donations

  • Recipe cards (want to donate food items to help those who are in need to create a meal? Shop for food items listed on a recipe card and include it in your donation). 

Food Donation List

Food shelves rely on the generosity from our community to serve families in need year-round. Whether you are donating money or food, each gift helps us fight hunger a little more. 

While fresh foods are important part of the food we provide, non-perishables are also needed an easy for you to donate. Food shelves can make the most of your non-perishable food donation when you consider three things: nutrition, usefulness, and quality vs. quantity. 

While all donations are important and appreciated, Aitkin County Public Health and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) program encourages the public to choose healthy, nutrient-packed donations from the list included in the toolkit over highly processed boxed foods like Little Debbie Snacks and Ramen noodles. 

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