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CWP to start conversation about food access, availability

WORTHINGTON -- Community Wellness Partners of Nobles County wants to talk about food accessibility, food affordability and food skills, and a place is being saved at the table for people willing to join in the conversation.

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WORTHINGTON - Community Wellness Partners of Nobles County wants to talk about food accessibility, food affordability and food skills, and a place is being saved at the table for people willing to join in the conversation.

During a special event April 24 at Grace Community Church, 2011 Nobles St., Worthington, CWP will draw together a variety of stakeholders - from public health agencies and faith-based organizations to food banks, local farmers and growers, city and county government, school districts, YMCA, library, boys and girls clubs, civic organizations and local grocery stores - for a candid discussion about food.

The meeting will be followed by a community showing of “A Place at the Table,” a film addressing the correlation between hunger and obesity and the economic, social and cultural implications in communities.

“We just want to showcase how hunger in America looks,” said Cecilia Bofah, Community Wellness Partners Coordinator for Nobles County Community Services. “It’s not just your average person on the corner asking for money on the street, but it’s your average, working-class mom constantly trying to figure out how to feed her family.

“We recognize there are a lot of food access and food affordability issues in our county,” she added.

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The invited stakeholders will meet from 5 to 6 p.m. to discuss the Minnesota Food Charter, a document containing strategies communities may choose to implement based on needs. Bofah hopes these stakeholders will come with ideas and resources, as well as share their concerns and areas of interest in addressing food.

“We don’t want to be biased with what we think the community needs,” Bofah said. “That’s why this group is so important. We would like for them to use the Minnesota Food Charter and meet the goals of that.

“We’re hoping it’s community driven,” she added. “We’re just at the table to help them with the resources we have.”

Following the invitation-only meeting, the public is invited to the 6 p.m. movie.

“This movie is a discussion starter to pique people’s interest and dive in deeper,” Bofah said, adding she hopes individuals will share their personal stories of food access and affordability to better explain the realities of families in Nobles County.

Looking at the school district data alone, Bofah said 46 percent of students in the Adrian school district qualify for free or reduced lunch rate, while more than 76 percent of students in the Worthington school district qualify.

“Kids are automatically eligible if their mom is on WIC (Women, Infants and Children program) or a parent is on welfare services,” Bofah explained. “It corresponds to parents being able to give their kids lunch money.”

Food affordability has a direct link to obesity, as families are more apt to spend money on cheap fast foods that don’t have the nutritional content children and adults should have in their diet.

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“Socioeconomic status correlates to obesity,” Bofah added.

Following the nearly 90-minute movie, CWP invites people to share their own food security stories and join in further conversation. Free childcare will be provided during the event.

“We want the youth to participate, too,” Bofah said. “We want them to have a voice in something like this.”

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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