Northeast Iowa schools purchased over $64,000 in food from local farms in the 2016-17 school year. Fourteen school districts contributed numbers to the survey which is conducted annually by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach on behalf of the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.
Respondents included community school districts (CSD) in Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Howard, Fayette and Winneshiek counties.
The Postville Community School District secured the honors for Most Local Food Purchases with $19,142. The Allamakee Community School District was a close second with $17,555 in food purchases. Decorah, St. Patrick’s school in Waukon, Central and MFL MarMac were the top schools with purchases greater than $3500.
The other districts in the survey each purchased $1000 or less.
Because the region’s school districts range in size from 150-1600 students, FFI also recognizes the schools who spend the most on local food per student per year. The top three schools in this category are St. Patrick’s-Waukon at $46.65, Postville CSD at $27.54 per student; Allamakee CSD at $15.99 per student.
Central and MFL MarMac received the Most Improved Award for tripling their local food purchases from the previous year.
Overall, school purchases for the 2016-17 school year were up slightly. Highlights included the local beef, pork and yogurt offered to students. St. Patrick’s school switched to bulk milk from WW Homestead Dairy and significantly reduced wasted milk and eliminated carton trash.
“These schools should be proud of their achievements,” said Teresa Wiemerslage, food system food coordinator for the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Local Foods Team. “Not only have they sourced high quality products for local school children, but also because they have also invested in the farmers that support our towns and schools.”
When schools purchase local foods, their purchases trigger even more local economic activity. Several studies estimate that buying local food has a multiplier effect of 1.4-2.6 throughout the local economy; for every dollar spent locally, another 40 cents to $1.60 of economic activity is generated.
Northeast Iowa schools have purchased over $302,000 from local farmers since 2008.