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SHIP, Park Rapids Area Schools team up to improve kids' nutrition

Marianne Gilbertson, center, Park Rapids School nurse, receives a $1,300 donation from Diane Brophy, St. Joseph's Community Health, at left, and Bonnie Engen, North Country CHB Administrator, at right. (Submitted photo)

The Park Rapids Area Schools recently received an award of $1,300 for participating in a North Country Community Health Board project to improve the nutritional environment in the school.

Funded through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) initiative, the project's aim is to help schools throughout the region develop sustainable practices to build a "culture of healthy eating."

According to a recent Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) report on obesity, more than 60 percent of adult Minnesotans are overweight or obese. Schools are a prime opportunity to foster healthy eating by our young people.

SHIP, administered through MDH, provides funding to all 87 counties and eight tribal governments for health improvement efforts to tackle obesity and tobacco use, the two leading causes of preventable deaths in Minnesota. SHIP strives to help all residents to lead longer, healthier lives by reducing chronic disease risk factors of tobacco use, poor nutrition, and physical activity. Its goal is to create sustainable changes in schools, communities, health care, and worksites.

Upon completion of the first year SHIP activities, North Country SHIP encourages schools to continue the process and work to strengthen the policies, systems, and environments around healthy eating in their cafeteria and school buildings.

Persons interested in additional information should contact Diane Brophy, St. Joseph's Community Health at 237-5483.