Libraries Across Minnesota Transform with the Times
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Libraries have long been a place where neighbors can go to feed their minds, but across Minnesota libraries are now becoming places where patrons can find out how to feed their bodies. At the Austin Public Library, director Ann Hokanson says they are offering classes on healthy cooking on a budget.
"The classes have been a very interactive experience," says Hokanson. "Library patrons can learn basic cooking skills, along with some new recipes that are affordable and healthy both for themselves and for their families."
Other libraries that have offered programs to improve community health include Duluth, Elbow Lake, Marshall, Owatonna, Rochester and Hennepin County.
Hokanson says libraries are the perfect venue for such efforts, since they're natural gathering places in communities.
"Libraries are one of the few remaining places in our towns where people of any background are welcomed," says Hokanson. "Libraries are free, they're usually centrally-located, there's room to do activities, room to meet friends, talk, learn, share."
The Public Libraries for Health programs were funded through grants from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Senior Program Officer Stacey Millet says the effort is part of their larger health equity initiative that seeks to ensure that all Minnesotans have an equal opportunity to live a healthy life regardless of income, education or race.
"One of the biggest lessons we have seen is that libraries are well-positioned to be credible players in advancing conversations about health in their community," says Millet.
Millet adds while helping improve health, library-based projects also engage communities with assistance with employment skills, educational opportunities, social connections and family support.
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