Meeker and Sibley Communities Receive Grants to Support “Dementia Friendly” Efforts

May 10th, 2016

Act on Alzheimer's LogoTen communities and their lead organizations have been awarded a grant from ACT on Alzheimer’s to closely consider how best to prepare their communities for the impacts of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and to work toward community-wide support of people touched by the disease.

The ten grantees include six rural and four urban communities; rural areas: Arlington (City of Arlington), Ely (Northwoods Partners), Granite Falls (Living at Home Block Nurse Program – Granite Falls), Litchfield (Meeker Memorial Hospital), Pine City (City of Pine City), and Sartell (Opportunity Matters); urban areas: Anoka (Impact Services), Chanhassen (City of Chanhassen), Duluth (The Victory Fund), and West African Community in Brooklyn Center (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church). The new communities join 33 existing communities statewide.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 91,000 Minnesotans age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s and many thousands more with other dementias. The grantees will join community engagement efforts across Minnesota in preparing for the personal, social, and budgetary impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The grant awards are funded through Blue Plus (an HMO affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota), Medica Foundation, Stratis Health’s Building Healthier Communities Award, and Greater Twin Cities United Way and administered through the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging.

Source: ACT on Alzheimer’s 

Don’t wait til Family Health and Fitness Day to be active with your family!

September 28th, 2015

Couple Walking on the Beach with Their Three Daughters and DogWhat is Family Health & Fitness Day USA®?

Family Health & Fitness Day USA is a nationwide health and fitness event for families, always held the last Saturday in September. The purpose of this unique national program — with the participation of localorganizations throughout the U.S.— is to increase good health awareness and promotefamily involvement in physical activity.

But you don’t need to wait for a National Fitness Day to get active with your family!  Here are some easy, fun ideas to keep your family healthy and entertained!


Compete in an Obstacle Course:

On your mark, get set, go! Obstacle courses are pure fun and can easily be set up in your backyard or your local park using items found around the home. You can use just about anything to create a fun obstacle course in the yard: hula-hoops, tires, ladders, pool noodles, string, rope, buckets, cones, boards…. you name it! Who says physical activity has to feel like a chore?

Visit an Indoor Rock Climbing Gym:

Kids are always jumping on furniture and climbing trees, so why not put that energy into a family-fun activity? Rock climbing will teach kids concentration skills, build confidence and give your family a great workout!

Go Apple Picking:

Visit the apple orchard for a perfect fall day family outing. Apple picking may not seem like a typical workout, but you’d be surprised how many steps you take while walking around an orchard. Plus, it’s surprisingly strenuous, especially for little arms and legs. And even better – the health benefits continue after you go home! Fresh picked apples make a great snack and there’s tons of healthy treats you and your little ones can make together.

Play a Game:

Instead of sitting home and watching football, go outside and play your own! Get all the family together and organize a touch football game. This is a really fun way to fight the lazy weekend slump and get in some physical activity too!

Organize an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt:

Every child (even adults) love the thrill of finding hidden treasures, and what better way to get the family moving than with a scavenger hunt! Turn the activity into an educational experience by hosting it at a zoo or local nature park. Compose a list of challenges, such as finding an oak leaf, split your family into teams, then head off and see who can complete the most tasks. That’s family fitness at its finest!

Get Lost in a Corn Maze:

Another great family fitness activity is navigation your ways through a corn maze! What could be more fun than getting lost in the middle of a cornfield and working together, as a family, to find your way out? With a little problem solving, you’ll walk across the finish line with a sense of accomplishment—and walk quite a few miles in the process.

Ride a Bicycle:

There’s a special bond between kids and bicycles that can never be broken. Bicycles represent fun, freedom, and fresh air — everything that’s good about being a kid. Spend the day biking around town or head to the nearest bike path. It’s a fun and healthy activity that everyone in the family can enjoy.

Pumpkin Picking:

Take a trip to the pumpkin patch and enjoy a day of family fitness and fun! With petting zoos, playgrounds, bounce houses and other activities, there is something for every member of the family to enjoy. When you’re done petting farm animals, hitch a hayride to the pumpkin patch, or better yet walk, and have fun hunting for the perfect pumpkin to carve. While it may seem like all fun and games, there’s actually quite a bit of heavy lifting involved.

Play Laser Tag:

We all know how much kids love playing video games, but what if they could actually participate in real life? One afternoon of laser tag can help exercise both the mind and body, not to mention you and your kids will have a blast. Now that’s what we call a win-win!

Visit a Park:

Weather permitting, hiking and scenic walks in local parks are fantastic and inexpensive ways to exercise with your kids and teach them to appreciate Mother Nature up close and personal. Get outside and get your blood pumping together — you may create some lasting memories as well as a lifelong habit of staying in shape.

See more at:

Celebrate Whole Grains Month!

September 28th, 2015

whole grains monthExcerpt from

Now here’s some good health news: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are heeding the Dietary Guidelines advice to “make at least half your grains whole,” with the majority of Americans eating more whole grains than they did five years ago.

The Boston-based non-profit Oldways Whole Grains Council (WGC) released these findings and others from the 2015 Whole Grains Consumer Insights Survey in time for September’s Whole Grains Month.

“For years, most people came nowhere close to whole grain recommendations, so it is encouraging to see that many are now benefiting from switching more of the grains they eat to whole grains,” said Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies, Oldways Whole Grains Council. “The next step is tempting Americans to expand their whole grain palates beyond bread, cereal and brown rice to delicious grains like spelt, farro, amaranth and teff.”

The push toward whole grains comes as studies show that eating whole grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Other benefits include reduced risk of asthma, healthier blood pressure levels, and better weight control.

For the survey, the Oldways Whole Grains Council asked Americans about their whole grain habits and here’s what they found:

Whole grain consumption is up!
  • Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent (64%), have increased whole grain consumption “some” or “a lot” in the last 5 years.
  • Whole grain lovers really love their whole grains. In fact, 2 in 3 respondents who nearly always choose whole grains now have increased their whole grain consumption a great deal compared to 5 years ago.
Choosing whole grains more often
  • Almost one-third of respondents (31%) say they nearly always choose whole grains. Five years ago, just 4 percent would have said this.
  • Another 32 percent choose whole grains about half the time.
  • That means 63 percent are making more than half their grains whole, good news since the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, due out this fall, are expected to continue with this recommendation as they have since 2005.
Whole grains are popular morning fuel
  • Breakfast remains the biggest eating occasion for whole grains, followed by dinner and then lunch. On average, 37 percent of daily whole grains are consumed at breakfast, 27 percent at dinner, 22 percent at lunch and just 14 percent as snacks.
  • People eat nearly 30 percent more whole grain breakfast cereal (hot or cold) than refined.
Health messages are getting through
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 (86%) of those who consume whole grains do so for the health benefits.
  • Forty percent (40%) choose whole grains because they enjoy the taste.
  • Cost was named as the leading barrier to eating more whole grains (39%).
  • Availability can also be a barrier (28%) – as many restaurants don’t offer whole grain choices.
Gluten confusion
  • Few fully understand gluten. While more than 1 in 3 identify gluten as a protein and 1 in 5 know it makes dough rise, only 4 percent correctly selected both (and no other options).
  • Twenty-one percent (21%) incorrectly think gluten is in all grains. In fact, gluten-free doesn’t mean grain free – even those following a gluten-free diet can enjoy grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff, and wild rice.
  • 93 percent eat gluten some or all of the time. Of the 7 percent who completely avoid gluten, only 1 in 5 has a medically-diagnosed problem with gluten.

Top 5 Favorite Whole Grain Foods

  1. Whole Wheat Bread (31%)
  1. Oatmeal (27%)
  1. Popcorn (15%)
  1. Whole Grain Cold Cereal (15%)
  1. Whole Grain Pasta (8%)


Whole Grains Month in September is the perfect time to explore lesser known grain options (or old favorites!) and “Share the Goodness” of delicious whole grains in person – and online. To celebrate Whole Grains Month, WGC is launching a “Share the Goodness of Whole Grains” Instagram photo contest, running September 1-30, 2015. To enter, follow the Whole Grains Council on Instagram (@Whole_Grains_Council) then upload your photo with a description telling how you shared your whole grain goodies with others using the hashtag #ShareWholeGrains. In addition, every week throughout the month of September, a random #ShareWholeGrains photo will be chosen and the winners will receive whole grain cookbooks, magazines and more! Start posting in September and your photo may even be regrammed by Cooking Light (@CookingLight)!

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September 16th, 2015

childhood obesity inforgraphicDuring the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups, increasing more than fourfold among children ages six to 11. More than 23 million children and teenagers (31.8 percent) ages two to 19 are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic.

“The growing rate of childhood obesity in our country is alarming,” said Kerry Ward, Healthy Communities Team Member. “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and Meeker McLeod Sibley Healthy Communities recognizes the serious threat obesity poses to the health of America’s children and the importance of decreasing its prevalence not only in insert city name, but across the entire United States.”

Obese young people have an 80-percent chance of becoming obese adults and are more likely than children of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults. As a result, they are more at risk for associated adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

The financial implications add up to a sobering $14 billion per year in direct health care costs alone. Americans spend approximately nine percent of their total medical costs on obesity-related illnesses. Additionally, there are psychosocial consequences that can hinder academic and social functioning and persist into adulthood.

“These severe consequences underscore the critical importance of children and teens to participate in physical activity and to engage in healthy eating habits,” said Ward. “Childhood obesity is entirely preventable. It’s up to adults to encourage these healthy habits.”

September 2010 was the first National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, established by presidential and congressional proclamations. “Nothing can be more important than protecting the health and wellbeing of our children for years to come. With a strong unity of purpose, we can make a difference for our kids,” said Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, who co-sponsored the House resolution. “I look forward to parents, health care providers, educators, civic leaders and organizations joining the effort to end childhood obesity.”

“Childhood obesity is a public health crisis,” said Congresswoman Kay Granger, a co-sponsor. “Children need information and guidance to make informed decisions about food and exercise. Childhood Obesity Awareness Month supports the goals of families, schools, and communities who are working to ensure we raise a healthier generation. If we keep our kids healthy now it will alleviate a major burden on our health care system while giving millions of young people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives.” Ward goes on to say that “Healthy Communities encompasses the factors that lead to advancing healthy living within our three counties.” ” With the Collaboration’s focus on mental health, obesity prevention and promoting wellness and prevention, we will look to make changes in our communities that are lasting and sustaining, helping to lower health care costs and lead residents in healthy behavior.”

In observance of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month this September, organizations, advocates and families nationwide are again planning events and activities to build awareness of childhood obesity and ways to combat it. Information and resources are available online at

September is Fruits & Veggies–More Matters Month

September 10th, 2015

Kids and veggies

Focus your attention on eating MORE fruits and vegetables! Add one more. Try something new. Educate yourself. Teach the kids. Try a new recipe.Everyone can benefit from eating just one more serving of fruits or veggies

The Facts
More than 90 percent of both adults and children do not eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate nutrition guide. But just remember two (2) things … fill half your plate with fruits & veggies at every eating occasion (including snacks) AND all forms … fresh, frozen, canned, dried  and 100% juice … count toward your daily intake!

What You Can Do

America’s More Matters Pledge to Fight Obesity
The obesity rate in American children has tripled over the past 30 years, and their expected lifespan is now less than their parents! There are things you can do at home … and at school … to help change this! Take the PLEDGE – Let Us Help You Stop this Trend! 

source:Fruits & Veggies–More Matters