“Back in 2008, Minnesota lawmakers recognized controlling health care costs can’t just be focusing on health care,” said Mikayla Holm, Kandiyohi-Renville SHIP coordinator based in Kandiyohi County. “They needed more investment in prevention.”
Holm, along with Leah Schueler, SHIP coordinator based in Renville County, told the Kandiyohi County Board at the Feb. 4 meeting what the local SHIP chapter will be working on in 2020 and reviewed activities of the last few years.
SHIP’s main focus areas are active living, healthy eating and tobacco reduction. SHIP works with community partners including schools, workplaces and health care providers on health improvement projects.
“If you live in the county, we can work with you,” Schueler said.
During the last grant cycle, 2018-2019, the Kandiyohi-Renville SHIP chapter helped 33 partner sites and distributed $67,907 into the community.
“They’ve done a heck of a job,” said Commissioner Harlan Madsen.
All of the projects SHIP assists fit within its three focus areas. Active living projects in which SHIP has taken part include the establishment of the Bike Willmar bike share program, installation of fitness signage at the Highland Apartments, development of active living plans for multiple communities and installation of pedestrian crossing signs in Raymond and Renville.
“We have done a lot of work around pedestrian signage: how are people crossing the street,” Schueler said.
SHIP also works with food shelves, grocery stores, community gardens and schools to improve healthy eating in communities. Projects include the Island Market in Bird Island, where SHIP has helped purchase equipment and brought a statewide rural grocery event to the store. SHIP is also creating retail partnerships with places like RC Hospital in Olivia, the New London Food Co-op and the Sunburg Cafe to give residents more places to buy fresh produce.
“We are trying to focus on increasing access to fruits and vegetables to anybody in our communities,” Holm said.
For the next grant cycle, the local SHIP program will have approximately $67,000 to distribute.
“We have about 28 partners we have already identified,” Schueler said.
Upcoming projects include purchasing equipment for the MNYou Youth Gardens, an electric benefits transfer machine for the United Acres Farmers Market in Olivia, an active living plan for Spicer, a comprehensive plan for Bird Island, trail signs for the Renville County Parks System and establishing a new pilot program with Central Community Transit. Bike racks will be placed on two buses, to allow passengers to also bring their bikes.
“We hope to get more users, a different community, to use the buses,” Holm said.
The commissioners were impressed by the amount of work SHIP is able to accomplish with few staff and limited funds. Schueler said that partners contribute their own funds and provide manpower toward the projects.
“We are the smaller dollars, we are the dollars that get people excited,” Schueler said.
Madsen said SHIP is almost like a bridge between projects and the community, providing that little push to get things going, whether it is help with paperwork or purchasing a needed piece of equipment.
“Sometimes it just takes that freezer, that cooler,” Madsen said.
Commissioner Corky Berg complimented SHIP and its coordinators for all the work they have done and continue to do for the counties.
“This is another one of those win-win situations in our region,” Berg said. “We are so lucky the counties in our region work so well together. This is a good partnership we have.”
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