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Volunteers pack 200,000 healthy meals for neighbors in need: At Owatonna Hospital, volunteers packed 1,400

OWATONNA, Minn. 06/06/2013

On Saturday, June 1, community members from across the Allina Health service area joined Allina Health employee volunteers to package 200,000 healthy meals for neighbors in need. More than 1,800 volunteers total worked together at 40 Allina Health locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. At Owatonna Hospital, 36 community and Allina Health volunteers packed 1,400 meals Saturday.

More than 75 nonprofit organizations throughout the Allina Health service area were recipients of the healthy meal packs, which included a "Healthful Eating on a Budget" brochure with recipes.

"It's inspirational to see this many people volunteering for the good of our community," said Penny Wheeler, MD, chief clinical officer of Allina Health. "I'm so proud to be part of this work."

"100 percent of the 1,400 meals packed at Owatonna Hospital last Saturday stayed in the community and went to the Steele County Food Shelf," said Natalie Ginter, manager of community engagement and development. "Allina Medical Clinics in Faribault and Northfield also packed and distributed 2,100 meals to four non-profits in Rice County."

The 200,000 meals were donated to more than 75 community organizations, including food shelves, shelters, schools and religious organizations, throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Allina Health purchased more than a quarter million pounds of food for the project. Each meal pack assembled by volunteers included cans of black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, chicken and a bag of brown rice-enough to feed four.

Apply for a Neighborhood Health Connection™ grant to fund your group's healthy activity

The June 1 event also kicked off the 2013 Neighborhood Health Connection™ grant program. Allina Health will award grants to groups or organizations who submit ideas for bringing people together to do healthy activities. The purpose of the Healthy Activity Grants is to support group activities that promote social connections and increase healthy behaviors (healthy eating, active living).

Online applications will be accepted now through June 14. Winners will be announced via email on July 10.

Free resources available

Visit to download free resources, including a Toolkit that gives people additional support to form stronger connections with their neighbors. It offers ideas about how to form a neighborhood group and tips on how to organize activities.