FFI Bits – June 2019

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Postville students enjoy a picnic in the school garden.

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen & April Bril

Upper Explorerland Safe Routes to School provided in-class bike safety education for 44 second grade classrooms in 24 schools throughout Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek county.  Through these efforts, UERPC taught important bike safety information and skills to over 850 students and give helmets to over 400 children who needed one!

UERPC’s Safe Routes to School partnered with Leadership Decorah to host a Progressive Walking Supper.  Around 200 community members enjoyed a FREE community walk while eating appetizers, walking tacos and desserts along the way!

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage & Kayla Koether

It’s Official! The the next chapter in FFI work was announced this week. Iowa Farmers Union has received $325,000 in funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to embark on a new project linking Early Care and Education (ECE) sites to local food. Together, we will take what we have learned in NE Iowa and set up the policies and systems to sustain the work state-wide. Read more.

Congratulations to the opening of the CONEction — a new business in Cresco that specializes in local foods. Fresh produce, fresh deli sandwiches using local meat, local ice cream and more.

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Toddler to school age kids at Kaleidoscope Kids in West Union learned from Fayette Master Gardeners how to plant, grow, and care for a variety of veggies and flowers planted in their newly revamped raised beds and painted buckets.

June is STRAWBERRY month! Fayette County Preschoolers are learning that strawberries are delicious just to wash, hold the green cap and eat.

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

The Allamakee Community School District in partnership with the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative is accepting applications for a full-time AmeriCorps service member for the 2019-2020 school year. The member will teach nutrition education classes, build and support school gardens, encourage Safe Routes to School and integrate Farm to School activities across the district.

The last Farm to Early Childhood Foods of the Month at West Side school in Decorah were leafy greens and tomatoes. Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten students tried a variety of leafy greens and graphed their class favorite and prepared and enjoyed spinach and kale smoothies! They tried a variety of different kinds of tomatoes and grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches.

A four-person video production crew from New York came to Wings Park school in Oelwein to shoot a video to be used for FoodCorps service member recruitment next year. They recorded lessons, one-on-one’s in the garden, cafeteria programming, and had interviews with teachers, students, Emma, and Barb.

Postville summer school students explored the garden space where the 4-H Garden Club grows produce for the school. Kindergarten students were most interested in the ripening strawberries! After journaling, students made cucumber sandwiches and lettuce wraps with local lettuce.

Enjoying the fruits of their labor, Fayette County 4-H’ers learned Food Preservation 101 Canning Strawberry Jam at the Gundersen Palmer Community Teaching Kitchen!! Be sure to check out the Fayette County Fair July 23-27 where you may see some BLUE RIBBON JAMS entered by these young people.

The kids at Waukon’s “Food and Fitness Fun” Summer Kids’ Club worked hard on their first day. They conquered the school garden by pulling weeds, prepping beds and planting tomatoes, peas, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cucumbers, peppers, sunflowers.


The Summer Food Service Program is a great opportunity to provide students in low-income areas with nutritious meals and snacks when they are not in school. There are many summer food service sites across Iowa, but they are often underutilized simply because children are not aware that these feeding sites exist. Find out if there is a summer food program in your school or neighboring school and promote the opportunity to your students and their families. Visit Summer Food Rocks to find a meal site near you. Waukon, Postville, Ossian, Howard-Winneshiek, MFL MarMac


Blanching vegetables. Blanching is am important step to maintain the quality of vegetables before canning or freezing, and not a safety step. Blanching vegetables will kill the enzymes present that will continue to soften the food even in the freezer. Blanching will also protect the color of the vegetable. The directions for blanching are often confusing. Here are some tips from the ISU Extension Answerline. 

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