Healthy Food Access

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Many of the leading chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer have strong, undeniable links to how we eat, meaning that healthy eating is a key ingredient for good health.

So what gets in the way of healthy eating? A "grocery gap" is felt by many Minnesotans, with nearly half (49 percent) reporting that not having a store nearby that sells healthy food impacts what they eat. Low accessibility, availability and affordability of healthy food often mean that Minnesotans who live in low-income communities and remote areas are far more likely than other people to experience challenges to healthy eating. A lack of full-service grocery stores and a high prevalence of convenience foods in communities mean that age-old food adage should actually be: 'we are where we eat.'

The Endless Benefits of Access to Healthy Foods


Healthy meals and snacks in schools support students' ability to learn by increasing attendance, concentration, and school connectedness, as well as reducing absenteeism and disruptive behavior.


Groups that experience the greatest disparities in health outcomes also experience the greatest inequities in social and environmental conditions concerning access to healthy foods. Bridging this gap can reduce the health disparities in these communities.

Early Childcare

Research on healthy child behavior data from the American Heart Association shows obese children as young as 3 will already show indications for developing heart disease in adulthood, and overweight children between the ages of 7 and 13 could develop heart disease as early as 25. Developing healthy dietary patterns and food preferences during the first few years of life will establish healthy eating habits, and also support their optimal growth and development.

Economic Value

Access to healthy food in the workplace plays a pivotal role in improving performance, while maintaining health and wellness of all employees. From corporate offices to construction sites, healthful eating in the workplace boosts productivity and decreases health care costs across the organization.¬

Real Stories of Minnesotans Pulling Together

Nearly 9 percent of people in Dakota County are classified as "food insecure." That means they lack the ability to afford enough nutritionally adequate, safe food for an active, healthy life. That’s higher than demographically similar counties of Anoka, Carver, Scott or Washington. The low-income neighborhoods where these culturally diverse people live are more likely to experience health disparities because of lower access to full-service grocery stores. Instead, they have concentrations of fast food, alcohol and tobacco retailers. To address this issue, The Open Door (formerly the Eagan and Lakeville Resource Center) and Woodhill Urban Agriculture (WUA) are working to expand an existing collaborative network called Homegrown South to change policy, systems and environments at the organizational, institutional and community level to improve health.

steps for action

How can you find out more about healthy food access in your community? Where do you start? How about checking out the Minnesota Food Charter and becoming a Food Charter Champion!


Go to for a copy of the Food Charter and some great ways to share it with your friends and colleagues. There are easy-to-use resources that can help you host meetings, implement recommendations, and make change.


Stay informed about the Food Charter. "Like" the Minnesota Food Charter Facebook page, follow the Food Charter on Twitter, and sign up for the Food Charter e-newsletter at


Join with others to implement Food Charter strategies. You and your friends or colleagues can work on Food Charter strategies that matter most to you. Share your plans with others across the state, by clicking "Act" at
  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.