A Super day for Tracy Kitchen Table

Tracy Kitchen Table Food Shelf got together with officials from various organizations to celebrate becoming certified a SuperShelf program. Pictured are Dave and Doreen VanDeWiele, Rosemary Hemmingsen, Barb Purves, Margaret Palan from United Community Action Partnership, Darlyce Rangaard from U of M Extension, Bonnie Christiansen from the Extension office, Dianne Davis-Kenning, also from the Extension office, volunteer Sandy Stobb and Nora Gordon from Extension. Photo / Per Peterson

Food shelf receives official ‘SuperShelf’ certification from University of Minnesota

By Per Peterson

Like a ray of sunshine, the north accent wall of the new-and-improved Tracy Kitchen Table Food Shelf invites guests with a warm welcome.

The bright yellow wall is just one new feature of the restored room that is home to shelf after shelf of healthy and nutritious food. And last Wednesday, the food shelf was officially designated as a fully-certified “SuperShelf” program — one of 18 in the state of Minnesota.

“They worked really hard to get this, and they couldn’t have done it without their volunteers,” said Nora Gordon, who works with the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health’s SuperShelf project, which is supported by HealthPartners, Valley Outreach and The Food Group.

The certification process began in late June.

The SuperShelf program helps transform food shelves to make healthy food more appealing to those who use their services and make the location itself more welcoming to its clients, said Gordon.

“They went through a process where they really took a deep look at sourcing and how they were getting food for their local food bank, what foods they were sourcing,” Gordon said. “They also went through the process of using behavioral economics, much like you would in a grocery store, to put healthy foods front and center.”

This is important, Gordon said, because many people who utilize food shelves are more prone to developing a chronic disease because of a poor diet.

“They come to food shelves to kind of spread their food dollar out, so it’s important to have healthy choices at a food shelf,” she said. “It’s really easy to buy less expensive foods at a grocery store like mac-and-cheese, Ramen … it’s a lot more expensive to buy meat, eggs and fresh produce, so that’s why it’s really important to have those types of food available for people when they come to the food shelf.”

The Tracy Kitchen Table Food Shelf offers a variety of meats, fruits and milk, along with many canned goods, breads, eggs and cheese. Gordon said Tracy’s food shelf offers enough healthy items to meet the needs of families and help them save money in the food budget.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.