Whited Receives Years of Service Recognition from MinnCAP

Posted by Mitch on July 30, 2019 3:05 PM in Uncategorized
(Photo L-R): Francie Mathes (Office of Economic Opportunity), Sandy Whited, Arnie Anderson (MinnCAP Executive Director).

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. staff attended the Minnesota Community Action Partnership (MinnCAP) Annual Training Conference held on July 22 – 25 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) in Duluth, Minn. Staff took part in legislative general sessions, listened to speakers on various topics, and took part in several educational breakout sessions.

In conjunction with the annual training conference, 25 Year Honorees were recognized for their dedicated service and commitment to Community Action. Tri-Valley’s Sandy Whited (Danube Head Start Center Manager) was honored for her 25 years of work with Tri-Valley Head Start, Child & Family Programs and Community Action.

(A short bio on Sandy from the event):Sandy has worked for Tri-Valley since 1995.  She started in the Bird Island Center and worked as Relief Teacher, Preschool Teacher, and Toddler Teacher.  Then she worked as Assistant Center Manager and helped with moving the center to Danube.  Over the years she has been a Mentor Teacher, Transportation Lead, and Education Supervisor.  This year marked her first year as Center Manager.  She has seen so many families grow and learn and has now begun to serve the next generation’s children.

Tri-Valley will be “On The Go” this summer

Posted by Mitch on July 3, 2019 2:43 PM in Uncategorized

Area community members interested in learning more about Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. and the programs offered at the community action agency will have an opportunity to do just that this summer.

in Crookston will host a series of “Tri-Valley on the Go” events in area
communities. Staff will travel on T.H.E. Bus and set up an informational booth
at designated locations in several communities including Warren, Argyle,
Hallock, Ada, Mahnomen, Fertile, Roseau, Warroad, Brooks, Oklee, and Red Lake

first event in the series will be held on Thursday, July 18 in Warren (Senior
Center), Argyle (Senior Center), and Hallock (Senior Center) and will last
approximately one hour in each location. The schedule for the 18th
is Warren (9:30 am – 10:30 am), Argyle (11:15 am – 12:15 pm), and Hallock (1:30
pm – 2:30 pm).

more information on “Tri-Valley on the Go” or to have Tri-Valley staff and
T.H.E. Bus visit your community, please call 800-584-7020.

Tri-Valley’s Summer Food Service Program open now through August 23 with free meals for all children

Posted by Mitch on June 5, 2019 3:12 PM in Uncategorized

By Crookston Times

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc.
is participating in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Meals will be provided to all
children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race,
color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, and there will be no
discrimination in the course of the meal service. Meals will be provided on a
first come, first service basis at the following site, times and dates/days of
the summer as follows:

Tri-Valley Crookston Head Start –
1407 Erskine St. Crookston, MN 56716

Monday-Friday June 3, 2019 through
August 23, 2019

Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Lunch: 10:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

20,000 children’s books awarded through SMIF’s Early Childhood Literacy Program

Posted by Mitch on May 20, 2019 10:04 AM in Uncategorized

Allison Miller, Owatonna People’s
Press, May 16, 2019

OWATONNA — Southern Minnesota
Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently awarded 20,000 children’s books valued at
$363,400 to 49 organizations through its Early Childhood Literacy Grant
Program. This grant supports early literacy efforts that enhance school readiness
for children birth to age five by providing children with books.

The books were awarded in
partnership with Capstone and ABDO, Mankato-based publishers of children’s
books and digital products and services. In 2002, Capstone helped launch the
BookStart program, working with SMIF to distribute thousands of books to
children in the region over a period of 15 years. In 2018, the Early Childhood
Literacy Grant was formed as a new collaborative effort between SMIF and the
two publishers to put even more books into the hands of children birth to age
five. SMIF has previously partnered with both companies on collectively
distributing more than 100,000 books across the region through grants and

“Learning to read is a foundational
milestone in a child’s life and incredibly important in setting up their future
success,” said Christie Skilbred, Capstone Corporate Giving Manager. “Capstone
is honored to support early literacy efforts in the region by providing books
for the Early Childhood Literacy Grant recipients. We want to congratulate all
of the grant recipients this year and thank them for the important work their
doing to support early literacy in their community. Helping kids succeed by
making learning fun is at the heart of what we do. Through our continued
partnership with Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, we are able to reach
and help more children in our communities succeed together.”

The following organizations were
awarded Early Childhood Literacy Grants because they provide outstanding early
literacy opportunities for young children and their families:

• Amboy Public Library

• Brown County Public Health

• Byron Public Schools

• Cannon Falls Area Schools

• Dodge County Public Health

• Families First of Minnesota,

• Faribault Public Schools

• Fillmore Central Public Schools,

• Freeborn County Public Health

• Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Public

• Human Services of Faribault and
Martin Counties

• Kasson-Mantorville Public Schools

• Kenyon-Wanamingo Public Schools

• Kingsland Public Schools, Spring

• Kiwanis International MN-DAK

• La Crescent-Hokah Public Schools

• Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial
Public Schools

• Lanesboro Public Library

• Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools

• Minnesota Valley Action Council

• New Prague Area Early Childhood

• New
Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Public Schools

• New Ulm Public Schools

• Northfield Public Schools

• Pine Island Public Schools

• Riverway Learning Community,

• Rochester Area Family YMCA

• Rochester Public Schools

• Rushford-Peterson Public Schools

• St. Anne’s School, Le Sueur

• St. Charles Public Schools

• St. Matthew Community Preschool,
Saint Charles

• SEMCAC Head Start

• Sleepy Eye Public Schools

• Southern Minnesota Education

• Spring Grove Public Schools

• Steele County Public Health

• Stewartville Public Schools

• The Reading Center, Rochester

• Three Rivers Community Action
Incorporated, Northfield

• Thrive Child Care and Family
Resource Center, Rochester

• Tri-City United Public Schools, Le

• Triton Public Schools, Dodge

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Elgin

• Waseca County Public Health

• Waterville-Elysian-Morristown
Public Schools

• Watonwan County Human
Services/Public Health

• Wells Public Library

• Youth First, Fairmont

“By reading to children, they are
exposed to so many wonderful things – imagination, creating, thinking and
painting a picture of the story in their mind,” said Rae Jean Hansen, Vice
President of Early Childhood at SMIF. “The nurturing and one-on-one attention
during reading encourages children to form a positive association with books
and reading.”

Award recipients will be able to
choose from a selection of titles donated by the publishing companies,
including bilingual and early childhood appropriate books. The organizations
will incorporate the books into their programs and events where young children
will receive books to take home and keep.

Crookston Public Schools/United Way of Crookston/Tri-Valley/USDA – Eat United returns this summer

Posted by Mitch on May 2, 2019 3:05 PM in Uncategorized

Crookston Daily Times

Free meal sites will be Wildwood Park and Highland Park near Jim Karn Field

The Eat United Summer Food Service Program will be running
for its fifth year during the summer of 2019 at Crookston’s Wildwood
Park and Highland Park Complex.

Free meals are offered to all kids ages 0-18 Monday-Thursday from June 10 to August 8.

Anyone 19 years and older can purchase a meal for $4, too.

Crookston Public Schools, along with the USDA, United Way of Crookston,
and Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. will provide free summer
lunches to all youth in the community on a first come, first serve

Meals will be served Monday-Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. starting Monday, June 10.

The meal sites will be closed the week of July 4 and the last day of the program will be August 8.

The program will run in two locations: Wildwood Park on Myrtle Street
in the Woods Addition and Highland Park Complex near Jim Karn Field
under the Lion’s Shelter.

There will be free bus service offered by Tri-Valley’s T.H.E. Bus by calling 281-0700.

There is no registration, sign-up or paperwork to receive a free meal. Everyone is welcome.

Tri-Valley’s Jami Lee awarded scholarship to attend National Child Nutrition Conference

Posted by Mitch on April 22, 2019 8:27 AM in Uncategorized


Times Report

Posted Apr 19, 2019 at 11:32 AM

It takes place April 23-26 in Chicago

The National CACFP Sponsors Association has awarded 15
scholarships to the National Child Nutrition Conference to be held in
Chicago, Illinois from April 23-26.

There were over 1,800
submissions and all of the applicants’ passion and commitment to the
children and adults they serve was evident and moving.

National Child Nutrition Conference Midwest Sponsor Scholarship was
awarded to Jami Lee of Tri Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. in
Crookston. Showing a strong dedication to continual improvement through
professional development, Lee will join over 1,700 members of the child
nutrition community for an incredible few days of training, networking,
and learning opportunities.

About the National CACFP Sponsors Association

Since 1986, the
National CACFP Sponsors Association (NCA) is the leading national
organization for sponsors who administer the USDA Child and Adult Care
Food Program (CACFP). We provide education and support to thousands of
members in the CACFP community and to sponsors of all sizes from across
the country. We strive to improve communication between families, care
givers, sponsors, and their supervising government agencies.

Energy Assistance for low-income Minnesotans still available

Posted by Mitch on April 15, 2019 1:48 PM in Uncategorized

April 9, 2019 | Energy, Consumers

Cold Weather Rule protection ends April 15; Applications due May 31

For Immediate Release:

Weather Rule that protects Minnesotans from natural gas or electricity
shut-off will end on April 15, but that date, and the warmer weather,
does not necessarily mean Minnesota households are done struggling to
pay their energy bills. Households across the state are still paying the
price for high winter heating bills.

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner
Steve Kelley urges low-income residents who need help paying their
energy bills to apply for the state’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP)
and establish a payment plan with their utility, if they haven’t done so
already. Minnesotans using delivered fuels such as fuel oil, propane or
wood to heat their homes are also eligible for EAP grants even though
they are not covered by the Cold Weather Rule.

EAP funds are limited and households are served on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program on the Commerce website for information.

“I encourage seniors, veterans,
people with disabilities, families with children or anyone struggling to
pay their energy bills to apply for Energy Assistance. We want to make
sure that everyone stays warm and safe while we make it through the
spring,” said Kelley. “Funds are still available, so those in need
should apply now to make sure they can get the help they need.”

Act now to avoid disconnection

Kelley encourages Minnesotans
who struggle with heating costs to contact their utility now to
establish and maintain a monthly payment plan. Most payment plans under
the Cold Weather Rule last from October 15 until April 15. To avoid
disconnection after April 15, customers who still owe a balance on their
bill should contact their utility before the Cold Weather Rule ends and
ask if they can continue their payment plan or establish a new payment

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) administers the Cold Weather Rule. For more information on the rule, visit the PUC website, email consumer.puc@state.mn.us, or call 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782.

How to apply for Energy Assistance Program

The Commerce Department
administers EAP in partnership with 29 local service providers in the
state. The program helps renters and homeowners earning at or below 50
percent of the state’s median income ($49,698 for a family of four)
obtain grant money to help pay their heating bills. Energy assistance
funds go directly to the energy provider on behalf of eligible
households. The average annual grant per household is about $545.

Last year, the program helped
more than 126,000 Minnesota households. EAP is federally funded through
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To apply for EAP, contact the local service provider in your county. To determine your service provider, visit the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program
on the Commerce website or call 1-800-657-3710. Applications must be
received or postmarked by May 31, 2019 for EAP benefits for the
2018-2019 program year benefits.


Rent reporting program a good fit for Crookston?

Posted by Mitch on March 20, 2019 8:01 AM in Uncategorized

Proponents say it motivates people to pay rent on time and, therefore, improve their credit

A University of Minnesota Crookston alum has been working with Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. on bringing his company’s rent reporting program to the area which could help people improve their credit.

During Tuesday’s Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority board meeting at RiverView Health, Tri-Valley Executive Director Jason Carlson gave a brief overview of Esusu Financial Inc.’s rent reporting concept saying it’s a way to help motivate people to pay their rent and help build credit at the same time.

Esusu was co-founded by UMC alum Wemimo Abbey, who is also the founder of Clean Water for Everyone, an African social venture providing access to clean water for over 100,000 people in six countries. Esusu has recently expanded to offer rent reporting for people “confident” in their abilities to make on-time rental payments for the foreseeable future as Esusu reports on both on-time and missed payments.

Participating landlords or property managers work with Esusu to provide information on their renter’s payments and Esusu reports that information to credit bureaus. They can report up to two years or 24 months of past rental payment history as long as the renter was on the same lease they are currently on. Esusu says it takes typically two to four weeks before a tenant’s reported rent payments will appear on their credit report.

“It’s impossible to promise or predict a certain score increase because every person has a unique credit risk profile, and multiple factors impact a person’s score, but people who verify two years of rental history and who already have established credit could potentially see an increase of 25-50 points if their rental history does not contain any late payments,” says Esusu’s website, www.esusurent.com.

Carlson said the concept was brought to him by Michelle Christopherson, UMC Director of Outreach and Community Engagement, and he then set up a meeting with Abbey and Tri-Valley’s Community Services Program Director Maureen Hams.

“It’s amazing the passion they (Esusu) have for this project,” Carlson boasted. “They left corporate jobs to do this.”

Carlson said he’d like to work with CHEDA’s Executive Director Craig Hoiseth and staff to see if this is a fit for Crookston. UMN Crookston Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause added that they are piloting the program on the Crookston campus, as well as in New York, and UMC students are learning about financial literacy and how to figure out their resident payments.

Lee Testifies for the Good Food Access Fund Hearing to the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, Housing and Finance Committee

Posted by Mitch on March 19, 2019 1:44 PM in Uncategorized

(Crookston, Minn.)- Senator Mark Johnson asked
Jami Lee, Tri-Valley Child Nutrition Manager to testify on behalf of Tri-Valley
for the Good Food Access Fund hearing to the Senate Agriculture, Rural
Development, Housing, and Finance Committee on Monday, March 18.

Lee says, “1 in 4 community members impacted by
food access challenges are children.  It is critical that low-income
families have access to healthy food within a reasonable distance. This is why
supporting continuous funding for such an important topic is so vital.”

The Good Food Access Fund (S.F. 1354) helps address the problem of Minnesotans having limited or no access to healthy, affordable foods, like fruits and vegetables, dairy, whole grains, lean meats and poultry.  The limited access increases health related risks and aids in the alarming increased rate of obesity in today’s society.  The Good Food Access Program has proven positive impacts on improving access to healthy, affordable foods while boosting Minnesota’s local economy.

(Photo) – Jami is third from the right

Jami Lee (Nutrition Services Manager) speaks at a press conference for the farm to school bill at the capitol.

Posted by Mitch on February 13, 2019 3:13 PM in Head Start

Jami Lee (Nutrition Services Manager) speaks at a press conference for the farm to school bill on Wednesday, February 13, at the capitol.

WHAT IS “FARM TO HEAD START?” “Farm to Head Start” is a type of Farm to Early Care initiative. Farm to Early Care initiatives connect young children with healthy, locally grown foods and support farmers in their communities. Farm to Early Care’s three core components are serving locally grown foods in Early Care meals and snacks, offering food and farming-related educational activities for children and organizing food and farming-related family engagement activities.

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council operates a unique Head Start program, serving the children of migrant farm workers who travel to Minnesota during the growing season. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy recognized the opportunity to create a meaningful connection for children between their families’ deep ties to farming and the foods in their meals through Farm to Head Start activities. Relatively new to her position as Tri-Valley’s Nutrition Services Manager, Jami was eager to find new ways to help children develop positive eating habits. She also recognized the potential for Farm to Head Start to help meet that goal, and was enthusiastic about the idea of supporting farmers while teaching children where their food comes from. Both IATP and Tri-Valley saw Farm to Head Start as a chance to highlight the crucial work migrant families do to feed the community.

The 2019 Farm to Head Start Case Study

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