Mino-Miijim, the “Good Food” program of theMille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, got nearly $100,000 from the 2018 Super Bowl Host Committee to invest in its sustainable community gardens program, thanks to Minnesota hosting the Super Bowl.
The MinnesotaSuper Bowl Host Committee Legacy Fund has committed to giving grants to 52 communities over 52 weeks this year to improve health and wellness among young people while promoting the Super Bowl.
The $99,353 grant to Mille Lacs will purchase equipment for tending the garden, for adding more gardens, doing education with children and other support. It is the first to be given to a Native community. At the announcement of the grant, members of the host committee joined Mille Lacs members at the community greenhouse, where youngsters painted murals and learned about gardening and planting.
Mino-Miijim started three years ago, and this year will focus on providing sustainable foods for tribal members, given the lack of nearby grocery stores. It also teaches about food and nutrition.
In its release about the grant, the host committee pointed to the Mille Lacs reservation as a “food desert,” defined by the USDA as a low-income area where a substantial number of residents have limited access to a supermarket or large grocery store.
“A lack of access to nutritious food has led to diabetes-related health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity and chronic kidney disease,” Sam Moose, commissioner of Mille Lacs Band Health and Human Services Department said in the release. “This grant supports our effort to give our communities the ability to eat, share and sell healthy and locally produced food.”
The gardens provide food, but also foster engagement of young people with the community.
“This grant will help us maintain and grow our community gardens and our Mino-Miijim program,” Mille Lacs Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin said in the release. “We believe getting our youth involved with gardening will lead to healthy eating, moderate exercise and a respect for the environment, for many future generations.”
The website explains the goals of the Legacy Fund, which blend with a Mille Lacs focus on children. "For the first time ever, children born today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. We need to get kids moving again. Eating better. Building lifelong habits. That’s why the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is turning this one-day event into a lasting legacy. To build a healthier, more active, life-changing future for all of Minnesota’s children, focused on three key areas – fun, fuel, and fundamentals."