Community Votes on Healthy Ideas for Duluth

Updated: 06/25/2014 10:54 AM
Created: 06/24/2014 8:28 PM
By: Travis Dill

Many groups in Duluth are striving to make the city healthier, and four are vying for community votes that could mean $10,000 in funding. The first Healthy Duluth Ideas Festival kicked off Tuesday night.

The Zeppa Foundation hosted the event to help decide what healthy ideas to fund.

“So the Healthy Duluth Ideas Festival is all about how we invest in our community and design our community in a way that will be healthy for everybody,” Executive Director Tony Cuneo said.

He invited community members to hear presentations from Cyclists of Gitchee Gummee Shores, Seeds of Success, the Health and Wellness Table and the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition. About 70 people turned out and ranked their ideas.

Cuneo said this type of brainstorming and project funding is needed because health isn't equitable in Duluth. He said your ZIP code can mean a shorter lifespan.

“In two neighborhoods less than five miles apart you might see life expectancies that are a decade or more different,” Cuneo said.

He said poverty and neighborhoods lacking access to grocery stores, in turn lacking healthy foods, causes some of the disparity.

The Lincoln Park Farmers' Market is providing access to fresh vegetables, but Seeds of Success program manger Michael Latsch wants to do more.

“We've seen other producers have great success selling value-added products like salsas, tomato sauces, jams, things like that there and we want to expand the quantity of food that's available at market so we're looking to get into the business,” Latsch said.

He said a little money can help them buy the cooking supplies they need to bring healthier options to the community, but he was only one presenter at the first Healthy Duluth Idea Festival.

Cuneo hopes the contest will get the community focusing on health equality.

“We really believe that all four of these ideas should be supported by the community, and so we're hoping with or without our award others in the audience will take ownership of some of these other ideas,” Cuneo said.

He said the $10,000 could be split among several groups, but it will take a few days to tally the votes from the audience members.

Cuneo said the ideas presented are only a few of those suggested for the community. More can be found on the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition website.

Cuneo said if there is more interest the Zeppa Foundation could hold more Healthy Duluth Idea Festivals in the future.

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