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Success Stories

The PartnerSHIP is working to decrease obesity rates and reduce the number of people who use commercial tobacco or are exposed to secondhand smoke in Winona County.

Thanks to the PartnerSHIP and community partners, more students are walking to school thanks to “Safe Routes to School” and enjoying additional physical activity both during and outside the school day. More schools are supporting “Farm to School” and other healthy eating opportunities. Employers are participating in the Winona County Worksite Wellness Collaborative and are working to offer more comprehensive workplace wellness strategies to improve workers’ health and productivity. The local health care facility is providing services and referrals that its patients need to eat healthier, get more physical activity and stop smoking. Winona County communities are supporting tobacco-free living, healthy eating and active living efforts. Child care facilities are increasing access to healthier food and physical activity for children in their care, and are supporting breastfeeding moms.

See more success stories below.

Active Living

  • “The more they burn the better they learn”

    Did you know that children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day? Physical activity is critical for kids. It can improve attendance, grades, cognitive abilities, memory and focus. According to the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, only 24 percent of males and 22 percent of females in fifth grade in Winona County met this recommendation over a seven-day time period.  

    The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) strives to increase opportunities for physical activity. On Thursday, May 10, 2018 SHIP hosted a free training at Ridgeway Community School for teachers and other staff that have recess, classroom, before and after school, and summer program responsibilities. Five staff from Ridgeway Community School and two staff from St. Charles Elementary School attended the three-hour training to learn how to expand options for physical activity before, during, and after school. The interactive training included lively discussion on best practices to provide ultimate opportunities for physical activity, sharing of successes and opportunities for improvement, and active demonstration of free resources.

    “I want to inspire kids to find activity that they love enough to sustain as an adult,” said trainer Mary Thissen-Milder, PhD from the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education. “Kids do what they enjoy. They choose things they feel safe and confident doing – where no one’s making fun of you.”

    “It’s exciting at this school that we have such a push for movement,” stated Mary Lee Eischen from Ridgeway Community School. “At Ridgeway Community School we encourage our students to move and have fun.  It encourages wellness through all of life and helps students with their academic focus.”

    SHIP will host a second free training on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 12:30- 3:30 p.m. at Ridgeway Community School on how to incorporate physical activity directly in the classroom.

    Register at: https://winonahealth.wufoo.com/forms/ship-active-schools-training/. Registration is limited to 25 people. Attendees will receive 3 CEUs upon completion of the class. Compensation is available to cover substitute teachers if needed during a trainee’s absence.

  • Outdoor Activity Center at Riverway Learning Community

    Riverway Learning Community became a SHIP partner in the Spring of 2017. Upon completing their School Health Index they identified the need to increase opportunities for physical activity offered during the school day. Previously the PE equipment was located in several different locations (off campus storage, locked trailer, gym storage closet) and were relatively difficult to access, thereby reducing their use. SHIP funds were used to offset the cost of a shed, now known as the OAC (Outdoor Activity Center). The shed is helping increase access to physical activity items for teachers to use with students.

    “Everyone is so excited about the new Outdoor Activity Center here. It is going to really increase access to equipment and, in turn, increase physical activity.  We are putting in place some partnerships with WSU, St. Mary’s, the YMCA and dance residency to help support that.”
    – Patrick Sheedy, Primary Leader of Teaching and Learning, Riverway Learning Community Charter School

  • Adult Weight Management

    Healthy Fit is a 14-week program led by a Winona Health registered dietitian that features information from exercise and behavioral health specialists to help participants with all aspects of weight management. The first community cohort began in November 2015 and finished in February 2016. Seven individuals completed the program with an average weight loss of 6.5 percent. A second community group began in April with a total of 24 people enrolled.

    SHIP dollars contributed to the dietitian and providers’ education, a body composition machine, educational materials for participants and marketing of the program.

    “I thoroughly enjoyed this class and really looked forward to attending every week. Focusing on a change of behavior rather than a ‘diet’ was the key. I know all of us knew what we should eat, it was the ‘why’ we do what we do and what we need to change. And having a ‘buddy’ to talk and share with was a major key also.”
    – Program Participant

  • Enhancing Active Living

    In the summer of 2016, the City of Winona received a SHIP mini-grant to support active living and bicycle infrastructure in our community. A Bike Fixtation stand was installed at the foot of the popular Holzinger Trails System.

    This project contributes to the growing active living movement by providing citizens and guests in our community with the ability to address simple DIY (do it yourself) bike repair.  The City of Winona Park and Recreation Department has taken ownership of the station, by committing to keep up its maintenance and promote this free new resource.

  • GR8 Kids

    GR8 Kids is an eight-week health and wellness program for 4th grade students. The curriculum content is based on 12345 Fit-Tastic and is reinforced through the use of wellness journals to track healthy activities. Points are awarded for consumption of fruits, vegetables, and water, acts of kindness and each 30-minute session of physical activity they engage in. In order to encourage family fitness, children receive an additional point for each family member who engages in physical activity with them. Piloted in St. Stanislaus Elementary School with 40 students, and expanding to reach another 70 students at Jefferson Elementary STEM School, GR8 Kids helps improve the overall quality of life for young individuals in our community, empowering them to be involved in making their own healthy choices. SHIP supported this program by providing synthetic food models for nutrition instruction, posters, and volunteer training. SHIP also funded pediatric prescription pads that were used at Winona Health with the same 12345 Fit-Tastic health message.

Healthy Eating

  • Riverway Learning Community Promotes Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

    Students at Riverway Learning Community in Winona helped pave the way for healthier lunch options at the school.

    Riverway Learning Community received funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership to conduct taste tests and enhance its physical education classes with new equipment this past spring.

    Students studied lunch waste at the school and identified which foods were thrown away most often. Proposed new items, including chicken Caesar wraps, were then sampled by students before being incorporated into the menu. The school cafeteria serves an average of 85 students and 10 staff daily.

    “It was great to receive funding for our food service program, allowing us to get creative with a few new entrees. The students loved participating in the selection and being able to critique the samples,” said Lindsay Krage, School Nutrition Leader.

    Physical education equipment included strength training and balance items, as well as an early childhood activity curriculum.

    Riverway Learning Community contributed an additional $678 in matching funds and in-kind labor for the wellness initiatives supported by SHIP.

  • Seed Bank and Library – A Unique Partnership in Winona

    The City of Winona Parks and Recreation Department and Winona State University are partnering on the first Seed Bank and Library to take root in southern Minnesota as well as the first Seed Bank and Library within all of the Minnesota State Colleges and University system. 

    The numbers from the first twelve months of the effort are impressive:
    – 350 users
    – 45 varieties and species of seeds
    – 165 attendees at two workshops featuring seed saving demonstrations and hands on activities
    – 500 volunteer hours, equating to an economic value of $13,790
    – 3,000 plant starters given away at three outreach events
    – 300 cookbooks in English and Spanish given away
    – 500 individuals reached through 7 lectures, 2 tabling events, 2 podcasts and 1 facilitated discussion around food equity and insecurity, biodiversity, and seed saving

    The project received funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and leveraged funding from personal donations, the American Association of University Women and Bluff Country Co-op’s bean jar program as well as multiple sources within Winona State University including the Green Fee, Student Senate, and a WSU Foundation campaign for a total budget of almost $15,000.  The project also received hundreds of dollars of resource donations from Seed Saver’s Exchange, Nature and Nurture Seeds, Renee’s Garden Seeds, Fedco Seeds, and Collective Eye Films.

    The main branch of WSU Seed Bank and Library is located at the East Recreation Center, which is in a lower income neighborhood and is predominately used by those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A smaller Seed Bank and Library is housed in the Winona State University campus food pantry.

    “At every event we had I met people who shared innovative ways to grow their own food,” said WSU Seed Bank & Library founder Alison Bettin. “In our seed saving workshops and outreach events we talked about container gardening; it’s a good place to start, and ideal if you don’t have a lot of land to grow produce. Growing their own food empowers people to take back a part of their life they haven’t paid as much attention to.”

    Thanks to the success of this work in Winona, a community member in Rochester was inspired to partner with Rochester Public Library to start a Seed Library of their own.

    To learn more about what is happening at the WSU Seed Bank & Library follow them on Facebook @wsuseedbanklibrary.

  • Fresh Funds Program – A New Way to Provide Nutrition

    Every year between December and April, the Winona Volunteer Services food shelf experiences a decline in fresh produce available for their clients.

    To help alleviate that challenge, Winona County PartnerSHIP, Winona Hy-Vee and Winona Volunteer Services partnered to introduce a program called “Hy-Vee Fresh Funds” to help increase access to fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables for local food shelf clients.

    When shopping at the Winona Hy-Vee during the month of March, which is National Nutrition Month, shoppers were invited by cashiers at the checkout lane to add $1, $5, $10 or more dollars to their grocery bill. The amount donated was deposited directly into a separate account for Winona Volunteer Services to purchase fresh food for food shelf clients.

    A total of $454.45 was raised through 192 transactions, which was used to buy 520 pounds of fresh produce, including cauliflower, cucumbers, potatoes and Georgia peaches.

    “All of the produce from Hy-Vee was extremely fresh. The volunteers are delighted to see a variety of produce available to our shoppers, especially having more expensive items like peaches,” said Sandra Burke, Winona Volunteer Services Executive Director.

    “We are proud to be able to partner with our community to help provide fresh, nutritious foods for all,” said Jennifer Holden, Winona Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian.

    The Hy-Vee Fresh Funds program was supported by the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), which helped fund store signs, brochures and cashier stickers to prompt donations.

  • Diabetes Group Education in Spanish

    Being diagnosed with diabetes can be scary and trying to manage the condition can feel daunting.

    To help support people living with diabetes, the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), Winona Health, and Project FINE partnered on a Diabetes Group Education pilot program that was interpreted in Spanish. Two classes were offered to eight Spanish-speaking individuals living with diabetes and five family members or friends. Participants received recipes, a food plan guide, and a basic guide to diabetes.

    Topics included what diabetes is, how to treat or manage it, basic nutrition information, blood sugar targets, how to prevent complications from high or low blood sugar, how diabetes changes over time, and how to take diabetes medication safely.

    Each class began with a healthy meal and included education on appropriate portion sizes. During the break, movement was incorporated.

    The program was taught by Theresa Hoyles, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Winona Health. “The class provided basic information to help manage diabetes. We gave participants the knowledge and skills to live the longest, healthiest life possible, and we worked with them to find out what would work with their lifestyle,” said Hoyles.

    Since taking the class, 100 percent of respondents indicated their knowledge about diabetes had increased either slightly (3 people) or increased greatly (4 people). In addition, 57 percent of respondents said they are more active following the class; 86 percent of respondents are making healthier food choices, and 100 percent of respondents would recommend this class to a friend with diabetes.

    “Sometimes it’s hard to do things that are good for you, and classes like this one motivate me to do them,” said one participant.

    “I think the classes are very interesting, especially because it taught me how we should eat and what to do if my blood sugar is high or low. I learned good exercises. Thank you, I hope these classes will be repeated again in the future,” said another participant.

  • New SHIP Partner Gets Their Hands Dirty – Literally!

    Front Porch Management and Winona County PartnerSHIP (SHIP) are partnering to bring healthier foods and enhanced opportunities for physical activity to the area. 

    Prairie Island Campground serves approximately 2,000 people per month, which new management expects to increase thanks to additional attractions added this year. Front Porch Management began a community garden at Prairie Island Campground with 21 plots available to use for the season at no cost to campers or community members. The garden was developed as a way to bring healthy fresh foods to community members and guests of the campground, build community awareness of the importance of healthy foods and provide learning opportunities for area students in grades K-12.  SHIP partner, Riverway Learning Community, has had three, 2-hour work sessions to help prepare the garden for planting. Three of the garden plots will be grown for community consumption. Extra produce will be shared with short term campers, community members, and with the Winona Volunteer Services food shelf.

    “We want to start small and send a message to the community – we are building a culture here,” said Anne Conway, co-owner of Front Porch Management. “We are offering fun and safe ways to enjoy the Prairie Island community.”

    Other plans include a pollinator garden and rental of paddling equipment including canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards in partnership with Winona State University. Additional plans for the campground include a bicycle rack, bicycle fix-station, bicycle fleet, and signage in other languages to be more inclusive.

    Visit the Prairie Island Campground website or read the Winona Daily News article to learn more.

  • Strong Market Season Kick Off

    The Goodview Farmers Market kicked off its second season (first full season) on Thursday, May 3 and it started off strong. The market welcomed approximately 150 customers, many were families that biked to the event. In 2017, the market hosted six vendors. In 2018, 17 have applied so far and five more are expected later this growing season.

    A new, fun, free program that is already drawing interest while increasing access to healthy foods is the Power of Produce (PoP) Club. Thanks to funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), children ages 4 through 12 receive a reusable shopping bag and a token valued at $2 to be spent (by kids) on fresh produce. Kids receive their token once per market and have the choice to spend it that day on fresh, locally grown produce, or save it for a future market. 41 kids registered for the PoP Club at the market kick off and 59 more at the next market, which had one customer very excited. “It’s great that Goodview is offering a Farmers Market. We need something like this in this area. My kids are so excited for the Power of Produce Club – they can’t wait to come back,” she said.

    The Farmers Market runs every Thursday through October from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the Elks Lodge Parking Lot, 4540 Service Drive, Goodview, MN. Register for the PoP Club at the market information table.

  • A Different Kind of “Test”

    Lewiston-Altura School District has been growing its Farm to School program for several years. The District has brought in more local and regional foods to the school cafeteria, which serves on average 615 students and 25 staff daily. In the winter of 2017, Lewiston-Altura School District partnered with SHIP to offer taste tests. Elementary students sampled cherries and avocados, Intermediate students sampled hummus and guacamole, and High School students sampled Asian pears and guacamole. This opportunity for students to try new and healthy foods provides the school with valuable data to help determine if items should be included in the school menu. Educational handouts were provided to students to raise awareness about the nutritious value of the items.

    Surveys collected after the taste tests indicated:
    73% of elementary school students said they were “Likely” or “Very likely” to eat fruit instead of candy
    51% of high school students said they were “Likely” or “Very likely” to eat fruit instead of candy

    39% of elementary school students eat three or more servings of vegetables per day
    26% of high school students eat three or more servings of vegetables per day

    64% of elementary school students eat three or more pieces of fruit per day
    52% of high school students eat three or more pieces of fruit per day

    Lewiston-Altura School District contributed a 45% match of funds and in-kind labor for the wellness initiatives supported by SHIP.

    “The guacamole was a HUGE hit with students and staff.  We definitely hope to add this to our menu.  Most people have never tried or even knew what an Asian pear was.  But once they tried it, they liked it,” Lori La Brec, High School Food Services.

    The District would like to provide more of these opportunities in the future, and hopefully encourage students and staff to continue to try new healthy foods they might come across in the grocery store.


  • Growing the Goodview Farmers Market

    The Winona County PartnerSHIP is proud to support the Goodview Farmers Market as it prepares for its second season. Emily Conners of the Goodview Farmers Market Board of Directors and Shannon Randall of the City of Goodview attended the 2018 Minnesota Farmers Market Association Conference & Annual Meeting in Monticello, MN thanks to funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership through the Minnesota Department of Health.

    “I was so impressed with the MFMA conference. We are very excited for the upcoming market season, with lots of ideas to make this the best market possible,” said Shannon Randall, Goodview Farmers Market Coordinator

    One new program that the market is considering this year is the Power of Produce (PoP) Club. This incentive program provides children ages 4 to 12 with a $2 token each week to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. The primary goals of the program are to improve the eating behavior of children and increase family attendance at the farmers market.

  • Beyond Addiction – Optimizing Healthy Eating

    Drug Court of Winona County (DCWC) aims to prolong and improve the lives of participants by helping them recover from addiction. Often, one unhealthy habit is replaced with another when a person begins recovery. For example, once a person stops using drugs, they often eat excessively, and usually the food is unhealthy. Beyond addiction and mental health issues, the participants have often been in poverty, homeless, or had other living challenges; this often leads to people not knowing how to make nutritious choices or even knowing how to cook.

    In the summer of 2017, DCWC received a SHIP mini grant to implement a program focused on nutrition education and optimizing healthy eating. The program provided Drug Court participants with the knowledge and materials needed to create better eating habits on a cost-effective budget. Through Winona Volunteer Services, a nutritionist taught participants how to prepare and cook meals that are healthy, quick, and affordable. The Hy-Vee dietician offered walk through tours of the store, showing participants where to look for healthy foods and also how to create meals that would work specifically for each participant’s needs, allergies, or dietary restrictions.

  • Project FINE Colorful Growers

    The Project FINE Colorful Growers program aims to promote agriculture and entrepreneurship among diverse youth. During the grant period of April to September, 2017, three families participated in project activities. Participants met to divide the garden into plots and plan what they would plant. In late April, they started seeds in trays so that they would grow into seedlings to plant in the garden. The garden was ready for planting in early June, and the program provided seeds and tools for families. Throughout the summer, the youth tended their garden plots and harvested their produce. SHIP grant funds were used to purchase gardening and hoop house materials.

Tobacco-Free Living

  • SHIP and the American Lung Association (ALA) Influence Smoke-Free Campuses

    In an effort to help reduce tobacco use, Live Well Winona worked with their landlord and surrounding tenants at Huff Center in Winona to create a tobacco-free zone that spans half of a city block. Inspired by a presentation given by Erin Simmons of ALA, staff learned about the Twin Cities based non-profit company, ANSR of Minnesota.  Through this connection they were able to follow the proper steps to make a seamless transition to a tobacco-free campus. ANSR provided the resources and assisted in supplying the signage needed.

    Inspired by this positive change at the Huff Center campus, Winona Volunteer Services decided to make their campus a Tobacco-Free Zone as well. Many thanks to SHIP, ALA and ANSR for helping improve our community.

  • Going Tobacco-Free

    Evidence-based workplace activities support policy and systems changes to promote healthier work environments. J.R. Watkins, a PartnerSHIP worksite partner, began an Employee Wellness Initiative encouraging healthy behaviors for all employees through policy, systems and environmental changes. Wanting to reduce health care costs, the company decided to offer a completely tobacco-free campus. With technical assistance and mini-grant funding from the PartnerSHIP, Watkins provided cessation program information for those interested in quitting, posted Tobacco-free Workplace signs on company grounds and implemented the policy change effective September 1, 2015.

    Between January 1, 2016 and September 23, 2016, worksite partners reached over 1,200 employees with their Tobacco-Free Environments and nearly 700 employees with their Tobacco Cessation Support.

    PartnerSHIP tobacco-free living activities support efforts to create smoke-free housing policies that reduce community members’ exposure to secondhand smoke and point-of-sale policies that reduce youth access to tobacco products. An estimated 57 residents were impacted by smoke-free housing activities in multi-unit housing facilities between January 1, 2016 and September 23, 2016.

Worksite Wellness

  • HBCI Healthy Eating

    In November 2017, HBC made the decision to remove the vending machines from our main office in favor of an in-house break room that would allow for more and healthier options to be made available to our staff and visitors during break and meal times.

    Prior to the transition, there was one full size refrigerator for staff that brought their lunches or snacks from home, and 2 vending machines containing typical items such as soda, chips, cookies and candy. The closest option to a meal was “cup of noodles”.

    The new “Healthy by Choice Pantry” contains 2 refrigerators for perishable items and beverages and 2 racks for items not needing to be kept cold. Food options made available in the Pantry refrigerators include string cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, Lunchables, and cheese and nut snack packs. We also stock frozen meals in the freezer. As the weather warms, we plan to add frozen yogurt and other like snacks. We added options for beverages such as milk, V8, bottled water, and fruit juice. We were also able to make available fresh fruit, raisins, popcorn, granola bars, breakfast bars, and more. The refrigerator for staff to bring food from home was also retained.

    We recognized that in this transition, we would not get buy-in from the staff if we removed all the items that were previously available under the old system. We did keep some of the less healthy options knowing that people would not always make the healthy choice, but at least now, they would have the option. We did, however, switch from full size candy bars to the fun size, so an employee could have a little sweet without feeling compelled to finish a whole bar.

    Payment for items in the Pantry is on the honor system and so far, it has been successful and is self-sustaining. A cash box is available with a small amount of cash so that employees can make change when necessary. The box is emptied of most of the revenue each evening, leaving just a small amount of money so the Pantry always open for business. Pricing for items has been made very generic so that we don’t have to re-price everything each time we add a new option.

    Each week, the pantry is inventoried and restocked, removing any of the perishable foods that have passed their prime and replenishing items that have sold.

    In January, we sent out a survey to see how the HBC Pantry was being received. We have approximately 55 employees at our main office location and we received 25 responses. On a scale of 1-5, we were rated at a 4 or better by most of the respondents. When asked if respondents preferred the old vending options or the new Pantry, the Pantry was the clear winner.

    We hope to continue to grow and evolve the program, taking into consideration feedback we receive and new ideas and opportunities that come along.

    Feedback received from the survey:

    “Best idea ever, love the Pantry and I buy something at least 3x a week if not more.”

    “…the selection is great; thanks for the work and I hope it is sustainable.”

Let's Talk About

Active Living

Active Living

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

Tobacco-Free Living

Tobacco-Free Living