Washington County Public Health and Environment co-hosted an event last week with the Metro Food Access Network (MFAN) to showcase the important work happening in Washington County to increase access to healthy food for all residents at Cimarron Farm, a large community garden in Lake Elmo. 

The event brought together more than 100 people from healthcare, food shelves, farmers markets, nonprofits, government, and the community to learn about food access through a panel of expert speakers and interactive food system stations. Attendees included Washington County commissioners Wayne Johnson and Stan Karwoski, state representative Shelly Christensen and Tony Jurgens, and state Sen. Karla Bigham.

Washington County is ranked as the second healthiest county in the state, according to the 2019 County Health Rankings, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. However, a closer look at the local data shows health outcomes for certain populations differ greatly. Low-income residents experience some of the largest health disparities in Washington County. Minnesota also ranks among the 10 worst states for access to fresh healthy food, according to a 2016 Healthy Food Access study commissioned by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

“We need to break down the barriers that keep people from having access to fresh and healthy foods,” said Lowell Johnson, director of Washington County’s Department of Public Health and Environment. “A top priority for the county is to make sure everyone, regardless of their social circumstances, has the chance to reach their best health.”

With support from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Washington County supports organizations working to eliminate disparities and improve access to healthy food and resources.

MFAN is a network of more than 400 food access organizations coming from across the seven-county metro region, with the mission of advancing equitable access to healthy food for all Twin Cities metro residents. MFAN is a network of more than 400 food-access organizations coming from across the seven-county metro region, with the collective mission of advancing equitable access to healthy food for all Twin Cities metro residents. Washington County and other metro counties provide funding to MFAN, with support from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Minnesota Department of Health.

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