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Live Healthy Iowa Kids' Fall Fitness Day announces its cash recipients

Posted: October 15, 2011
Live Healthy Iowa Kids' Fall Fitness Day, a free one-day event to get Iowan's youth active and educated on the importance of physical activity.

Fall Fitness Day saw record numbers with 456,466 participating youth, equaling 178 schools. Each year, Live Healthy Iowa gives cash prizes to randomly drawn participating schools and their physical education programs. This year's recipients were awarded a total of $2,750 to schools all across Iowa.

    $250 GC to Scheels – New Albin Elementary, New Albin
    $250 GC to Scheels – Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary, Sibley
    $250 GC to Scheels – Marnie Simons Elementary, Hamburg
    $250 GC to Hopkins – Central Community, Elkader
    $250 GC to Hopkins – Nashua-Plainfield Elementary, Nashua
    $500 – West Cedar Elementary, Waverly
    $1,000 – Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock, Rockford

Congratulations to all schools, students and administration who participated in Fall Fitness Day and are dedicated to the health and well-being of Iowa!
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Online Crossing Guard Training Available

Posted: October 12, 2011
The Iowa Safe Routes to School program announces an online training for crossing guards.  This program is delivered by crossing guard instructors from the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.  The training reviews the tips and techniques for safe crossing practices.  

The Iowa Safe Routes to School program has replicated much from successful programs like the Florida DOT Crossing Guard Training Program.  The goal of the training is to improve the safety of crossing guard controlled intersections by using uniform crossing techniques.  

Crossing guards can be an asset to a good safe routes to school program.  Safe Routes to School works to encourage more kids to walk or ride bicycles to school.  In 1969, 42% of kids walked or bicycled to school.  Today, less than 15% of kids ride or walk to school.  Traffic safety is the number one concern of surveyed parents.  Crossing guard training takes steps to address that concern.  

Each training will be online.  For an instructions to join the training, please contact or call (515) 309-2867.  More information is at  Particpants can join the webinar at

Training Dates:

October17, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (Click toRegister)
October17, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM (Click toRegister)
October24, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM (Click toRegister)
October28, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM (Click toRegister)
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Local Youth Host FEEST in Postville

Posted: October 10, 2011

Postville teens recently gathered to prepare and share a healthy, delicious meal featuring local food.  The event was a part of the newly formed FEEST at Postville high school--Food Empowerment Education and Sustainability Team.

On a Sunday afternoon, the Postville FEEST filled the kitchen of St. Paul Lutheran Church and created a variety of dishes from donated local foods including stir fry, vegetable frittata, fried green tomatoes, roasted green beans, steamed purple cabbage, caramelized apples and squash, baked butternut squash, and tomato bruschetta with homemade tortilla chips.

Similar to an event hosted in West Union a few weeks earlier,  FEEST youth participants will gather each month to kick it in the kitchen, prepare a delicious and healthy meal, and then eat all together family-style while learning more about food in our communities.

Alex Enyart, son of Steve and Paula Enyart, is the catalyst for the Postville FEEST program.  Enyart attended the W.K. Kellogg Place-Based Partnerships Meeting in Detroit in July.  Enyart was inspired by the King County FEEST program and is now working with community partners, local producers, youth and FoodCorps to implement the program in her community.
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Taste of Northeast Iowa Set for Oct. 6

Posted: September 29, 2011
Mirroring the growing national movement in regional food production and healthier living, northeast Iowans have shown an increased interest in locally produced food.   To celebrate the wonderful foods grown here, several community partners are hosting a sampling event to delight any palate. 

A Taste of Northeast Iowa will feature farms, restaurants, caterers, microbreweries and wineries from Northeast Iowa.  The event will take place at the Elks Lodge in Decorah from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.   Attendees will browse the food tables and visit with the people who grow and prepare the food.

The cost is $10 per person.  Children 9 and under are free with attending adult.  Tickets are available at the Oneota Community Food Coop in Decorah. 

Proceeds will go to the Food & Fitness fund at the Northeast Iowa Funders Network.  The Network is a regional network of funders committed to growing healthy communities by encouraging partnerships, promoting local community foundation endowment funds and raising and pooling project funds to benefit Northeast Iowa.   An innovative approach to project sustainability, the Network received the Nonprofit Collaboration Award at the Iowa Nonprofit Summit in 2010. 

This celebration of local food is sponsored by GROWN Locally, Oneota Community Food Coop, Farm Bureau, Sodexo, NE IA Food & Fitness Initiative, NE IA Buy Fresh, Buy Local, the Elks and FoodCorps.
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Local Youth Host FEEST in West Union

Posted: September 28, 2011
West Union teens recently gathered to prepare and share a healthy, delicious meal featuring local food.  The event was a part of the newly formed FEEST group at North Fayette high school--Food Empowerment Education and Sustainability Team.

On a Sunday afternoon, the West Union FEEST team filled the kitchen of the United Methodist Church and created a variety of dishes from donated local foods including venison stir fry, vegetable frittata, fried green tomatoes, roasted green beans, steamed purple cabbage, caramelized apples and squash, baked butternut squash, tomato bruschetta with homemade tortilla chips and apple wedges with vanilla/clove yogurt.

The FEEST events started in 2006 as part of the Seattle, WA, King County Food and Fitness Initiative, a W. K. Kellogg Foundation grantee.  Seattle organized a program that would engage youth in their Food and Fitness work as well as allow youth the opportunity to learn how food can connect a community. That team developed a replication manual to share with youth groups inspired by its success.

Iowa FEEST will also create the environment for youth to learn about foods, create a menu, and prepare food with a focus on local foods. Two communities in Iowa will pilot the program--West Union and Postville--with the additional of other FEEST sites in the future.
Kaylee Michelson, daughter of Scot and Karen Michelson, is the catalyst for the West Union FEEST program.  Kaylee attended the W.K. Kellogg Place-Based Partnerships Meeting in Detroit in July.  Kaylee was inspired by the King County FEEST program and is now working with community partners, local producers, youth and FoodCorps to implement the program in her community.

FEEST youth participants will gather each month to kick it in the kitchen, prepare a delicious and healthy meal, and then eat all together family-style while learning more about food in our communities.

For more information on the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative or to learn how to join FEEST in West Union or Postville please contact the Iowa State University Extension office in Winneshiek County or go to
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Cooking School for School Cooks

Posted: September 26, 2011
Some local school food service staff are sharpening their cooking skills by attending 5th Season Workshops hosted by the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative Farm to School program.   

A 5th Season Workshop is designed to teach food service staff how to prepare and store local foods from farmers or school gardens.  As the name implies, the fifth season is when you utilize local foods that have been preserved by a variety of methods in meals.   

At one workshop, guest chef and author Monique Hooker from De Soto, Wisconsin showed food service workers how to prepare and store fresh local produce to be used throughout the school year by creating a vegetable dish called ratatouille.  The ratatouille was frozen and will be used in pizza, lasagnas and other dishes for school lunch at South Winneshiek this year.

At another workshop, guest Chef Jason Skarin from Luther Collage led a stir-fry workshop at Decorah Middle School.  Food service staff prepared and froze stir-fry vegetables from the school garden and local farmers.  

Research shows that transforming school food and increasing physical activity improves student health and academic performance, and lowers absenteeism.  Increasing healthy, locally grown foods in schools is financially feasible and benefits the entire Northeast Iowa economy.

Cooks from five schools participated in the trainings:  Decorah, Oelwein, Turkey Valley, Postville and S. Winneshiek.
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School Food Service Workers Complete ServSafe Training

Posted: September 25, 2011
School food service employees from five school districts participated in a day-long food safety in-service taught by Iowa State University Extension specialist Cindy Baumgartner.  The training was part of the Farm to School project in northeast Iowa.  

Nineteen food service staff from South Winneshiek, Oelwein, West Central, MFL Mar-Mac and Central of Elkader school districts participated in the training.

ServSafe® is a program of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.  The training focuses on food hazards and proper food handling practices to keep food safe and protect the establishment against foodborne-illness outbreaks.  Participants learned about prevention, regulatory requirements, and how to improve food quality.

Participants have the option of testing for certification upon completion of training.  Ninty-five percent of the participants passed the exam and are ServSafe® certified for five years. 

Participants in the ServSafe training and the school or organization they represent:
Back row (L to R):  Cindy Baumgartner, ISU Extension; M. Streittmatter, Oelwein;  J. Turner, Oelwein; L. Lechtenberg, S. Winn; L. Boleyn, Oelwein; D. Vargason, Oelwein; K. Westendorf, West Central; M. Oakland, S. Winn; T. Fink, West Central.  Middle (L to R):  S. Lewey, MFL Mar-Mac; D. Larson, Oelwein; L. Bartels, Oelwein; B. Zubrod, Oelwein; T. Lewis, Oelwein; P. Rechkemmer, Oelwein; W. Miller, West Central.  Front Row:  J. Krueger, MFL Mar-Mac; R. Engelhardt, Central; L. Bunting, Central; D. Ledesma, Oelwein.
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October marks the first National Farm to School Month

Posted: September 25, 2011
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate the connections that are happening all over the country between schools and local food.

In November 2010, Congress approved a resolution introduced by Representative Rush Holt (NJ) to officially designate October as National Farm to School Month. The passage of House Resolution 1655 demonstrates the growing importance and role of Farm to School programs as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies and educate children about the origins of food.

To celebrate the first National Farm to School Month, schools across the country are inviting farmers and chefs to visit schools during the month of October.  Whether you are a food service professional, a farmer, a teacher or a food-loving family, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and get involved. Visit for ideas about how to celebrate and materials to help you spread the word in your community.
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Greater Economic Opportunities for Rural Communities

Posted: September 24, 2011
From the USDA Blog, August 26, 2011.

Last week as I walked around the Iowa State Fair, I was reminded about the power of philanthropy.  The Iowa State Fair's Blue Ribbon Foundation has raised more than $80 million since its inception in 1993 and helped make numerous facilities improvements all around the fairgrounds including: a new exhibition center, a remodeled food center and an animal-learning center.

How appropriate, then, that during the White House Rural Forum at the Iowa State Fair, I was able to announce a Memorandum of Understanding between Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Council on Foundations. The MOU outlines ways to provide new of capital, new job opportunities, workforce investment strategies, and identification of additional resources that can be used to spur economic growth in rural America.

Joining me as I made this announcement were representatives from the Iowa Council of Foundations, including Executive Director Angie Dehtlefs-Trettin.

Ms. Dehtlefs-Trettin told me that even in these trying economic times, the foundation has seen a 20 percent increase in assets during the last 12 months. She described to me one of her favorite examples of how community foundations can play an essential role in rural America. Through the efforts of many organizations, including community foundations, the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative was established to implement a strategic plan and develop the educational programs, events, and other efforts that provide farmers with an opportunity to diversify and explore food production.

The initiative quickly expanded to six counties with nearly 50 active members and more than 100 producer members. Organizers are now working with 18 different schools in northeast Iowa to encourage local food consumption as part of student meal programs and regular exercise for children.

I look forward to working with community foundations all across the country to effectively leverage funds to improve the quality of life and create jobs in rural America.

Working together, the government and its partners will boost the effectiveness of efforts to create economic opportunity in communities and regions of our nation that need support.
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Area schools serve locally grown foods during Home Grown School Lunch Week, September 19-23

Posted: September 19, 2011
School lunch is getting a healthy and fresh makeover this week.  Fourteen northeast Iowa schools are serving local foods on school lunch menus and participating in nutrition education and fitness activities as part of Home Grown School Lunch Week, September 19-23.  The schools are receiving support from the NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI) in planning the activities for the week.   

What Is Home Grown School Lunch Week?
It's a week where the focus is on eating local foods as part of school lunches (one day or all week), along with conducting school-based activities to promote healthier eating.  Food Service Directors in local school systems will offer local items on the school lunch menu during the week.  Nutrition education information will be provided to students, and they will learn the benefits of using Iowa-grown foods.
School and student groups such as the Food & Fitness Youth Teams, FFA, and 4-H are encouraged to create and participate in Farm-to-School events. Students can also participate by buying local foods and packing an Iowa Home Grown Lunch.

Providing support for Home Grown School Lunch Week in addition to the Food & Fitness Initiative are Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Luther College and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

What Is Farm to School?
In 2007, Iowa lawmakers passed Farm to School legislation to establish a program that would link elementary, secondary, public and non-public schools with Iowa farmers; provide schools with fresh and minimally processed Iowa grown food for inclusion in school meals and snacks; and to encourage children to develop healthy eating habits and provide them with hands-on learning opportunities, such as farm visits, cooking demonstrations, and school gardening and composting programs.

Participating Schools:
1.    Central Community Schools, Elkader.
2.    Clayton Ridge Community Schools, Guttenberg.
3.    Howard Winneshiek Schools, Cresco.
4.    New Hampton Community Schools, New Hampton.
5.    North Fayette Community Schools, West Union.
6.    North Winneshiek School, Burr Oak. 
7.    Oelwein Community Schools. 
8.    Postville Community Schools.
9.    Riceville Community Schools, Riceville.
10.    South Winneshiek Schools, Calmar. 
11.    Starmont Community Schools, Arlington.
12.    St. Joseph's School, New Hampton.
13.    Turkey Valley Community Schools.
14.    Valley of Elgin.
15.  Decorah Schools.

School Plans:

Central of Elkader
Serving a local fruit or vegetable every day including cucumber salad, lettuce, apples, coleslaw and carrots.

Clayton Ridge
Local produce for tasting samples at our Go the Distance Day on September 27 for the entire Clayton Ridge Elementary and High School Students. 

Serving squash and ratatouille mix from the school garden and apples from a local producer.

Serving local fruits and vegetables all week.

New Hampton
Serving produce grown in school greenhouse managed by FFA students.

North Fayette
Serving local apples throughout the week for lunch and breakfast.  Making carrot cake featuring local carrots.   Will be highlight one fact about Iowa farming each day.

North Winneshiek
Middle  School youth will talk to PK-3 at lunch about the school garden as we plan on serving produce from the garden next week.  Will also serve apples and other local veggies during the week.

Has a variety of events planned for the week including the Family Fall Harvest Fair on Sept. 21 from 5-7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.  Like last year, the fair will have plenty of activities, food and educational opportunities for both children and adults.

Serving fruit and vegetables from school garden and local farmers including cucumbers, melons, cabbage and apples.   They are also planning Family Meal Night on Sept. 26 featuring local pork and coleslaw at 5:30 pm at the Elementary School.

Will serve produce from school garden.  Menu includes local apples. 

South Winneshiek
Nutrition Services will be serving a local grown vegetable or fruit each day during Home Grown School Lunch Week.  Will talk to students about school garden and sample fresh raspberries grown there.   They are hosting student taste tests including 11 different varieties of apples. Lunch menu for the week includes tomatoes, broccoli, baked potatoes, watermelon and apples.

Starmont will have taste-it treats offered in the lunch room and in the classrooms during the week.  Fresh vegetables and fresh fruits will be offered on the menu two times during the week.

St. Joseph's, New Hampton
Serving local apples for lunch.

Turkey Valley
Will serve produce from school garden.  Menu includes local fruits and vegetables.

Valley of Elgin
Fresh produce will be used in mixed lettuce salad, mixed veggies, warm veggies, and on the salad bar.  We always have local foods on our salad bar daily until they are no longer available.  Will have tastings with elementary students to sample broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, and cucumbers.  School cooks will be sporting new veggie aprons.  They are green with colorful veggies on the pockets.
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View the Iowa Food and Fitness Calendar