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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Replacing Fountain Soda Machine
Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet. 75% of the food items sold in the Lakeside Cafeteria at Winona Health meet the Mindful criteria for wellness. Only 41% of beverages sold in the cafeteria meet the same wellness criteria. Each year, customers purchase 6,117 cups of soda from the cafeteria, which translates to 2,664 pounds of sugar. A SHIP mini grant helped to replace the fountain soda machine with an ice and water dispenser and a hydration station featuring naturally flavored waters and refreshers.
- Taste Test Tuesday
St. Charles Schools participated in Taste Test Tuesday in the spring of 2017 for students in both the High School and Elementary. Students had the opportunity to sample various items funded by SHIP to be included in breakfast, lunch, snack cart and concessions. A few of the items sampled included mango, jerky sticks, jicama, breakfast blueberry bake, avocado. Students completed a survey to indicate if they liked or disliked the sample. There was a high amount of energy and enthusiasm in the cafeteria on Taste Test Tuesdays! This was a great way for students to trial and be introduced to a variety of new foods.
- Goodview Farmers Market
The City of Goodview launched a Farmers Market in the summer of 2017. The mission of the Goodview Farmers Market is to bring together local growers and artisans, support local farmers and businesses, and provide a thriving and inclusive gathering place for all residents of our community.
The market generated great interest, with over 140 people attending the kick-off event. The weekly market offers fresh produce, artisan items, music and food trucks featuring fresh, local products. SHIP funds assisted with the start up costs of canopies, signage and advertising.
See our coverage in the Winona Post for more information.
- East Recreation Center Community Garden
The East Recreation Center (ERC) implemented a community garden, supported by SHIP funds, comprised of 50 plots of various sizes. The garden is tended and nurtured by multiple groups and individuals within the Winona community. The garden has increased opportunities for good nutrition and physical activity for residents of Winona. The addition of a community garden has positively impacted the economic, social and physical environment at the East Recreation Center. The garden helps foster wellness within the mind, body and spirit through gardening and programming, and celebrates diversity, creativity and sustainability. Garden programming in the first year includes a tea party, potluck, yoga and mindfulness.
- Better Options at RiverSide Electronics
RiverSide Electronics in Lewiston, MN wanted to offer healthier vending options to their employees. Met by resistance from their vendor, they terminated their contract and began purchasing and maintaining their own vending with healthier options. They also developed healthy snack stations.
- Lewiston Farm-to-School Program
The Lewiston-Alutrua school district implemented a Farm-to-School program with thanks to grants from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Statewide Health Improvement Program. The program has allowed for kindergartners to visit the Rockie Hill Bison farm in Winona, where they were able to learn more about Bison from Executive Director of the Minnesota Buffalo Association and farm owner, Gail Griffin, and visit their natural habitat. It has also allowed for High Schoolers to be given the opportunity to try Rockie Hill bison burgers daily and bison jerky a la carte.
Learn more about their field trip from the Winona Daily News.
- Healthier Menu Options
Live Well, Eat Well is menu labeling wellness initiative developed to help customers easily identify healthier menu choices when dining out. The criteria used for this program is based on Mindful by Sodexo. Live Well, Eat Well menu items are reviewed by a Winona Health registered dietitian using a food analysis program to ensure the nutritional criteria are met. Offering information on healthy menu options allows consumers to make informed decisions that support a healthy lifestyle. SHIP funds contributed to promotion, supplies and staff training.
- Empowering Health Ambassadors
Project FINE has been a long-standing partner. Between April and September of 2016, SHIP mini-grant funds supported the Health Promotion project in providing an avenue for refugees and immigrants to make long term health improvements and inspire others to lead healthier lives. The ‘promotora’ approach equips and empowers participants to become health ambassadors in their circles of influence by modeling and promoting healthy behavior.
SHIP grant funds were used to support the creation of a community health guide and the purchase of supplies for outreach activities. Participants selected and led the outreach, including home visits to share the health guide, having blood pressure and BMI checks during community events and meetings, organizing exercise classes and inviting the Winona Area Public Schools Nutrition Director to meet with parents and share information about healthy school food choices.
During the grant period, 55 individuals participated in project activities. 23 served as promotoras for activities in Winona and St. Charles, and 32 attended outreach events. 10 large group events were held and promotoras completed 20 outreach visits to their friends, family and peers.
- 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.
- 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.”