Press Release: City of Sandpoint, Community Partners Collaborate to Help Get Children Active, Access Healthy Foods

The High Five Community Transformation Grant helped fund community projects and programs to make Sandpoint a healthier community

Sandpoint, Idaho – Three years of collaboration, learning and working yielded a new appreciation for community health, as well as projects and programs that will help make the City of Sandpoint a healthier community. This effort was the result of a High Five Community Transformation Grant the city received from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

The grant was a three-year collaborative process from 2017-2019 when the Bonner County Coalition for Health — a team of city and community leaders — engaged in a process to better understand the challenges, assets and needs of the community. The group then developed an action plan that led to projects and programs designed to create opportunities for children to be active and access healthy foods.

The Community Transformation Grant is different from traditional grants in that it provides more than funding. The city had access to community data, state and national experts, and technical assistance to help guide the decision making in determining what projects to pursue. The team of community leaders collaborated to recommend to the Sandpoint City Council how the $250,000 in grant funding would be used.

“We watched dynamic partnerships form in Sandpoint with the goal of creating sustainable change,” said Kendra Witt-Doyle, Executive Director, Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “These partnerships and relationships created will live on long after the grant ended. This grant is about so much more than the physical projects.”

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad said, “This grant created another opportunity for our community members to engage with each other and develop collaborative solutions that will have long-term impact. It was pure synergy.”

The impact of the Community Transformation Grant was supported significantly through outside funding and in-kind donations. Aaron Qualls, the Planning and Community Development Director for Sandpoint, noted that each project benefitted from outside work or funding.

“We saw the opportunity to improve the health of our youth through this grant through both new and renewed data-informed efforts,” Qualls said. “It brought a lot of energy to the community.”

Below is a list of the projects and programs that the City of Sandpoint completed during the High Five Community Transformation Grant provided by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

      • 7B Culinary Connections built and stocked food pantries at North Idaho Children’s Mental Health, Family Health Center, and Creations for Sandpoint.
      • 7B Culinary Connections hosted cooking classes for after-school programs at Farmin-Stidwell Elementary and Kootenai Elementary Schools.
      • The garden at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church doubled in size with the additions to the orchard and berry patch sections. In addition to irrigation, 28 raised garden beds, 20 fruit trees and 205 berries were added.
      • School gardens and culinary programs were expanded at Sandpoint Middle School, Lake Pend Oreille High School, Farmin-Stidwell Elementary School, and Sandpoint Waldorf School.
      • A greenhouse was built at Home School Academy.
      • Greentree Naturals produced a handbook that included education materials that help guide each school garden in terms of planting, maintenance, learning opportunities and promoting activities.
      • Weekend backpack food kits were distributed by Food For Our Children for Head Start and the Mid-Morning Snack Program at Lake Pend Oreille High School.
      • Children who attended Camp Kaniksu, a nature-based summer camp available to all youth regardless of financial ability to pay, were provided food during camp.
      • Children who attended “Nature of Music, Music in Nature” program, a partnership between Kaniksu Land Trust and the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint, were provided food during the program.
      • The East Bonner County Library District purchased a greenhouse, constructed fruit bins and compost bins. The library had garden story times, Garden Club programs and cooking classes.
      • The 21st Century Community Learning Center purchased sports equipment and locking storage for its after-school programs that offer daily physical activity.
      • Farmin-Stidwell Elementary School began creating its outdoor space dedicated to developmental preschool students that includes sensory water activities, mini-trampolines, and sandboxes.
      • Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE) completed its Mountain Field Campus located at Schweitzer Mountain that helps children learn about the outdoors through physical activity and green exercise.
      • A recreation center was built at Pine Street Woods, and a winter sports program was developed that included cross-country ski equipment and snowshoes that are available at no cost for organized outings.
      • A youth needs assessment for the broader community and a feasibility study for siting a YMCA facility in Sandpoint were conducted.
    • To learn more about the Community Transformation Grant, view this report.