Kelsey started with the project in 2018, working to support and grow existing initiatives to make healthy, local food accessible for all. By connecting with many talented community partners, Kelsey was able to expand the Rutabaga Project's programming. By the 2020 Farmers Market Season, the Rutabaga Project and AEOA were able to help Virginia, Hibbing, Cook, and Tower farmers markets accept EBT/SNAP (food support) dollars and provided $10 matches through the Hunger Solutions Market Bucks Program. Kelsey also assisted with making sure the Power of Produce $2 program for kids to try new veggies and fruits was a success.
At the end of 2018, the Rutabaga Project began working with the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) to make healthy eating and local food more accessible for community members around the Iron Range. Early SHIP initiatives included promoting healthy food in corner stores and supporting farm to school programming at Virginia High School and Mesabi East School District. During her time, Kelsey progressed the Rutabaga Project's mission by earning a competitive USDA Farmers Market Promotion grant to bring more resources into the region for farmers markets and local food producers. Through this, Kelsey also launched two local food workgroups, one planning Consumer Education outreach and the other called "Shovel-Ready Projects," which initiated the NFN's Local Food and Farm event.
At the start of the pandemic, Kelsey connected USDA Farmers to Families Food Box distributors with AEOA's dedicated staff and volunteers, which brought in over $1 million of food resources to families in need.
Kelsey has started a new position at the Duluth Community School Collaborative as its Executive Director. From those of us at the Rutabaga Project, AEOA, local farmers market vendors, and community health boards - we wish Kelsey the very best on her next endeavors.