Counties west of St. Louis County. The grand challenges for this section were dominated by racial disparities; poor health, including high rates of diabetes; and the limited access to basic needs, such as food, housing, and health care, experienced by American Indian families.
Significant percentages also reported overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, binge drinking, and so on. #disconnect #fdontheroad (2/2)— LiveHealthyLiveWell (@UMNExtFD) August 13, 2015
Staff showed particular concern for young American Indian males: those in attendance discussed racial profiling in the justice system where 50 percent of those arrested are native young men. With some of the lowest graduation rates in the state, these young men, often struggling with alcohol abuse and homelessness, need to be repositioned to have indigenous knowledge back at their core.
St. Louis County and counties to the east. Discussions of the challenges in this section were dominated by the region’s inextricable links to the global economy. With a large swath of natural resource-based industries, including mining and lumber, residents’ fates are reliant less on their skills and more on what is going on globally. For example, prior to the regional visit, over 1000 people had been laid off in the region because of foreign steel “dumping”. In response, the contract negotiations between the steel company and employees became highly contentious and there were threats of a strike. In another example, the staff discussed the thin profit margin of the wood products industry. One person stated, “If Blandin [Paper Mill] sneezes, the community catches a cold.” There are also constant and confusing reports about companies expanding and contracting. All of this creates a large workforce who experiences constant disequilibrium, with an external locus of control. All of these factors contribute to a need for re-training of employees.
Southern St. Louis County and counties to the south. Duluth is the juggernaut, or driving force, in the region. Duluth is the fourth largest city in the state, and activities happening there and in the surrounding area give FD staff some hope, from food systems changes to health promotion efforts. One example is the Grocery Express bus line, a special Duluth Transit Authority bus route improving food access for residents in some Duluth neighborhoods considered "food deserts."
|Karen Mason (left) and Lisa Lamar board the DTA's "Grocery Express" at Super One on a recent Tuesday afternoon.|
Photo credit: Bob King / firstname.lastname@example.org
"If I have a problem, I'm going to walk into the woods and solve it on my own." - #fdontheroad ppt on the #Scandinavian ethos in NE MN.— Hannah Jastram (@jastrd) August 13, 2015
Intra-regional differences. The Northeast Region has recently received two SNAP-Ed Community Partnership Funding grants. In Virginia, The Rutabaga Project, through the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, will develop an action plan with community participants so that the development of a local food system is affordable, accessible, and sustainable. Its development will be human-centered, and community well-being will be foundational to the project. Over in Duluth, Churches United in Ministry, in collaboration with Center City Housing Corporation, aims to promote healthy eating and active living among the families and children living in the supportive housing that they own and operate together. Through the partnership, they will surround families in their supportive housing programs with experiences that promote healthy eating from farm to fork and from cradle through maturity, through cultivation, farmers markets, and food preparation.
Staff demonstrated a true level of energy (and internal locus of control) even with grand challenges all around them. FD staff are concentrated in three Regional Extension Centers and nearby County Extension Offices. Here’s more information about FD staff in this region:
- 2 Family Resiliency Extension educators
- 1 Health and Nutrition Extension educator
- 2 SNAP-Ed regional coordinators
- 13 SNAP-Ed educators