Eighteen School Wellness Teams Attend Food & Fitness Retreat

The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI) hosted a School Wellness Retreat on March 21, 2012 at Luther College.


The six-hour event celebrated the partnership between the Northeast Iowa FFI and 18 area school districts and focused on the theme that together, we grow healthy kids, and the notion that it takes an entire community to support wellness at a school.


The audience, comprised mostly of school wellness teams, included approximately 150 administrators, teachers, food service directors, school nurses, parents, and students.


Becky Wampler, Director of Health Care Sustainability at Wellmark, addressed the growing childhood obesity rates in her keynote. Wampler also summarized how the Healthiest State Initiative—a collaboration between Wellmark, Hy-Vee, and Blue Zones Project—is working to make Iowa the healthiest state in the U.S. by 2016.


The Healthiest State Initiative aligns with the mission of the Northeast Iowa FFI, which is aimed at increasing access to local, healthy foods and physical activity opportunities.  The Northeast Iowa FFI is one of nine sites supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Community Program.


Dr. Kathy Zurcher, Systems Thinking Consultant and Partner, facilitated “High Performing Wellness Teams” where participants explored the roles and responsibilities of team members.


Zurcher stressed for school wellness teams to function efficiently there must be common goals and values between communities, parents, and staff.  Teams also discussed what they are currently doing to reach their visions.


Participants listened to presentations from Teresa Wiemerslage, Iowa State University Extension Region 4 Extension Education & Communications Coordinator, and Heidi Skildum, Safe Routes to School Liaison.  Wiemerslage and Skildum discussed how community partnerships are helping make schools healthier places by encouraging the use of local foods and physical activity.


The FFI School Outreach Team, including FoodCorps and State of Promise AmeriCorps service members, guided discussions about school gardens, cafeteria makeovers, active classrooms, school-wide wellness messaging and engaging parents to create healthier schools.  Each networking opportunity was sprinkled with best practices from schools from our region and nation.


Many participants indicated that “interacting with other schools to learn new ideas about healthy living” was a highlight of the day.


Other highlights included a healthy family-style meal on budget prepared by Luther College Dining Services. The meal consisted of local turkey, local sweet potatoes, green beans, salad with homemade dressing, and homemade applesauce. The meal was representative Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (S.N.A.P) budget and would have fed a family of four for about 10 dollars.


Emily Neal, Director of School Outreach at Luther College, explained how the Northeast Iowa FFI will assist schools in 2012-2013.  Area schools can apply for support of a Northeast Iowa FFI AmeriCorps and FoodCorps service member to deepen wellness initiatives and projects in a school district.  The FFI will continue to offer workshops and trainings for food service, youth and teachers to promote healthier schools and communities.


The following were headlines proposed by Youth in the High Performing Wellness Teams with Dr. Kathy Zurcher:

Central’s Poundin’ the Streets Against Sweets
Central’ Wellness Team Makin’ the Dream
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!
School Greenhouse Produces 30 Percent of Cafeteria Food
Healthy Isn’t Just Awesome, It’s a Way of Life
Starmont Achieves America’s Goal of 23 ½ Hours
Riceville: Hear it, See it, Live it- Be Fit
The Stars are the Limit at Starmont
Oelwein Fuels up to Work into the Blue Zone
Postville Leads the Way to a Healthy America
Postville Youth Role Model to the World
South Winn Students and Staff Walk the Mississippi River
Growin’ Healthy Kids One Kid at a Time!
Cadets for a Cause: Blue and White gets the Gold
Clayton Ridge Celebrates the Taste of Local Foods
Clayton Ridge—Come be Fit with Us!
Bulldog Building Better Student Bodies
Decorah Wellness, Reasons to Stay!
Growing Healthy Kids Inside and Out
Valley Survives and Thrives: Breaks Ground for a New 24/7 Wellness Center
Panther Pride—Healthy and Happy in Harmony
Everybody wants to be a Trojan!
Turkey Valley a model of Total Wellness
North Fayette Garden and Greenhouse Provides School Lunches
80 Percent of North Winneshiek’s Meals is Locally Produced
North Winners Carnival Gets the Community Involved

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