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Signature programs and special projects

Minnesota Food Charter Network: Engagement

The Minnesota Food Charter Network is a statewide network that supports and fosters shared action towards healthy food access for all. A core function of the network is engaging food networks across the state, and University of Minnesota Extension provides critical leadership in building connections and strengthening capacity for Minnesota food networks.


A snapshot of 24 of Minnesota's 70+ food networks. See the full directory here: Food Networks in Minnesota.

The Need

The Minnesota Food Charter Network (the Network) was formed in concert with the Minnesota Food Charter to support and track statewide implementation of food charter strategies. The Network fosters relationships, builds capacity, leverages influence, creates efficiencies, communicates successes, and provides organizational support for everyone involved. The goal of the Network’s engagement function is to support, connect, and build capacity of local and regional food networks to effectively carry out food charter strategies.

Why Extension?

Extension’s leadership role in the engagement function of the Network are grounded in three strengths:

Building connections and strengthening food networks’ capacity allows us to contribute to the “ecosystem” of people, information, relationships, and resources positioned to implement policy and systems change strategies.

Extension’s Strategic Response

Extension Health and Nutrition staff have developed a multi-pronged engagement effort to help our state’s 70+ food networks implement food charter strategies. The specific strategies we will use to achieve the goal of building connections and strengthening capacity for food networks in Minnesota are as follows:

Who’s Involved?

The Network is supported by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Health, and University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition. The Minnesota Food Charter Network is hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Healthy Food, Healthy Lives Institute.

Extension leads not only engagement, but also learning, and capacity-building efforts for the Network. In addition, our staff participate on several Minnesota Food Charter Network action teams, including Learning & Capacity Building, Policy, Shared Measurement, Aligned Funding, as well as the Operations Team and Strategic Team. Find a full list of committee members here: Minnesota Food Charter: Committees.

Interested in learning more? Connect with one of the following engagement leads: Jamie Bain, Noelle Harden, or Stephanie Heim.

Related resources

Food Networks — Learn from those that come before you! Read research and reports, and connect with active food networks across the state.

Minnesota Food Charter — The Minnesota Food Charter is a roadmap designed to guide policymakers and community leaders in providing Minnesotans with equal access to affordable, safe, and healthy food regardless of where they live.

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