Guest Column: SHIP helps make healthy choices easier

Published 10:41 am Thursday, July 7, 2016

Guest Column by Alice Englin

If you’d like to learn more about SHIP contact Alice Englin, SHIP coordinator, Freeborn County Public Health,at 507-377- 5100 or

We all want to be healthy, but sometimes we need a helping hand. Thanks to SHIP, communities across the state are creating good health for parents, kids and the whole community.

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SHIP is the Statewide Health Improvement Program. SHIP focuses on increasing physical activity, improving nutrition and reducing the number of people who use tobacco or are exposed to it. Every county in Minnesota is a SHIP grantee, receiving funds from the Minnesota Department of Health to create policy, systems and environmental changes to improve health.

Alice Englin

Alice Englin

We work in four settings in our county: schools, workplaces, community and health care. There have been many exciting efforts our community has become involved in over the past year.

Schools – This past spring, Hawthorne Elementary School created and implemented a before and after school student running club. Sibley Elementary School created and implemented a before school student jump rope club. Glenville-Emmons School created and implemented a before and after school student walking and biking club. Alden-Conger School implemented a healthy snack cart program for students to get a healthy snack in the afternoons.

Workplaces – Thorne Crest implemented a new healthy snack station for employees. This gives employees a healthy choice option for snacks during their break or lunch hour. Albert Lea City Hall created a lactation room for nursing moms. In fact, they will receive an award for their room later this month from the Freeborn County Breastfeeding Coalition. Albert Lea Select Foods installed an employee garden for their employees to grow their own fresh produce.

Community – Healthy Eating: SHIP has partnered with Women Infant Children and the University of Minnesota Extension to provide farmers market tours. The first tour took place last month. Participants from WIC were taken on a tour of the Albert Lea Farmers Market by an Extension educator. They learned about healthy eating choices, and how the farmers market works. One WIC participant tried kohlrabi for the first time and really liked it!

Community – Active Living: SHIP partnered with Community Education and Brookside Boathouse to implement a new biking program. Bikes and helmets are now available for use through the Boathouse. If you have a SNAP/EBT card or are a WIC participant, you may use the bikes/helmets for free; simply show your EBT card or WIC folder at the Boathouse.

Community – Smoke-free, multi-unit housing: In April SHIP partnered with the American Lung Association of Minnesota to host a coffee and converse informational session on multi-housing units going smoke-free. We are following up with our attendees and may have a couple more rental houses going smoke-free next month.

Heath Care – SHIP is partnering with the Freeborn County Public Health longterm care team to engage clients in evidence-based healthy lifestyle programs offered in our community.

There’s a lot of exciting things going on to improve health in Freeborn County. We are thankful to the many, many community partners who work with us to improve health. The collaboration in our community is phenomenal and we accomplish so much because of our success in working together!

SHIP helps make healthy choices easier.