Make It Better in October

City challenges residents to promote health and fitness

Minneapolis is calling those who live, work or attend school within the city to increase access to healthy food and exercise through its Make It Better Challenge.

The challenge is designed to raise awareness about the efforts of individuals and groups who make it easier to live more healthily through a contest in which participants submit their stories of what they are doing in their community.

Led by The City of Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support as a part of the federally funded initiative, Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), the Make It Better Challenge aims to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases that can result from obesity.

“The Making it Better Challenge is an opportunity to highlight all of the great work that is taking place and — just as essential — inspire others to get involved,” Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant said. “All of these efforts have a big impact on improving the health of Minneapolis residents.”

Lindsey Frey, who works for Haberman, a media and marketing firm, which is promoting the Make It Better Challenge, said it is off to a good start.

“We were super excited to see the submissions that we’ve seen so far and we’re hoping for more by the end of the month,” Frey said. “It’s really fun seeing them come in and seeing what’s happening in the community.”

The challenge has received almost 15 submissions thus far, from all over Minneapolis and into Olmstead County, where the Challenge was launched as well.

HUGE Improv Theater, a nonprofit group in the Lyndale neighborhood, is promoting healthy transportation options.  The theater worked out a sponsorship deal with their beverage distributor in order to give theatergoers who biked to a performance a free sports drink.

“Our theater is located in a really good place to bike to and it’s nice to give away something to reward people,” Jill Bernard of HUGE said.

Daniel Swenson-Klatt, the owner of Butter Bakery Café, also in the Lyndale neighborhood, said that coffee shops aren’t known for offering healthy food options, but he is trying to do otherwise.

Butter Bakery Café is a member of two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and uses the food they provide in the café’s soups and salads. The café is also a drop off site for the CSA foods and Swenson-Klatt said more than 40 people per week pick-up food boxes. By using the food provided in what the café makes, he said it educates his customers on how to use the food they pick up and raises awareness of CSA farms.

“It is important to me to provide healthy options for my neighbors,” Swenson-Klatt said on his submission form, “many of whom are young, single and renting and not always the best at caring for their food choices.”

Other submissions include the Camden Farmers Market, which does not charge vendors for setting up and encourages them to donate leftover produce to Second Harvest and Northpoint Health and Wellness Center, and a mother whose son attends Seward Montessori, who encouraged a local vendor to donate bike racks to the school.

The Make It Better Challenge runs from Oct. 1–Oct. 31. It will award three randomly selected winners each week a choice from five prize packages. Prizes include passes to Minnesota State Parks, gift certificates to local farmers markets, co-ops or sporting goods stores, dinner sessions provided by a local chef and free ice skating, skiing or snowboarding.  One story will be chosen to be a part of a 2012 advertising series about people improving the health of their community.

For more information on the Make It Better Challenge, or to enter a story go to makingitbettermn.org or facebook.com/makingitbetterminneapolis.