Making healthy food choices feasible for every community member is important. Because Valley Natural Foods’ mission is a healthy community, we want to be at the forefront of this effort. Increasing the access, availability and affordability of healthy foods is a complex process. It involves everyone from educators, parents, employers, public health professionals, policymakers, gardeners, local farmers, local producers and concerned citizens.
Part of increasing food access means connecting people and empowering them to develop direct consumer-grower relationships along with giving them the resources needed to build their own gardens. A sustainable food system is based upon trusted relationships, cooperation and good stewardship. Improving upon this system will further benefit our community as a whole, helping keep a larger portion of each food dollar in the local economy.
The current healthy food access programs at Valley Natural Foods are:
Food Shelf Donations to 360 Communities
Connecting those in need to fresh local foods is the first step to self-sufficient communities. 360 Communities is known for its network of five food shelves in Burnsville, Apple Valley, Farmington and Rosemount but the organization does so much more. In works with families or individuals going through difficult times to develop a road map for future success at school, at home and in the workforce. Food shelf volunteers pick up fresh produce and grocery items at Valley Natural Foods three times a week to aid those in this first step toward self-sufficiency.
Community Garden Support
Community gardening transfers the lessons of fresh produce from an individual’s backyard to that of a neighborhood or large group of people. Community gardens give residents in apartments the opportunity to garden. Many immigrant and low-income families live in subsidized multiple-housing units and have no nearby access to land to garden. Valley Natural Foods financially supports several community garden developments in the south metro through different outreach programs. These community gardens include Woodhill Urban Agricultural Group’s community garden at Burnsville’s International Outreach Church, The Partnership Garden at the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley and Westview Elementary’s community garden in Apple Valley. Valley Natural Foods plans to expand its community garden support year to year.