Minnesota Town Gets Healthy

A small town in mid-America commits itself to healthier eating, increased exercise, and cleaner living.

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Some townspeople have gone vegan while others have banished fast food from their homes and taken up new exercise routines. The people of Albert Lea, Minn., were motivated to get healthy by the Vitality Project, a program organized by non-profit AARP and the United Health Foundation. The two groups helped the city build five years worth of sidewalks and trails in just one year so that Albert Lea residents have a place to exercise. Community members embraced the endeavor; employers are giving workers time to exercise, local restaurants are adding healthier items to their menus, and grocery stores are promoting healthier foods. This community approach to wellness even extends to schoolchildren, who now take adult supervised “walking buses” to school.