“This is my home.” As I listened to this song lyric this morning, I realized that it captures perfectly how I feel at the moment. As a returning FoodCorps service member with The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, I feel comfortable calling Iowa “home”. The people, students, staff, and community have been more than welcoming. Why do I love living in Decorah? It’s a place that clearly values health and wellness. It’s walkability score is off the charts; trails and outdoor adventure are never far away.
Lucky as I am in Decorah, I love discovering the treasures of other communities in our area! My service this year will focus on Waukon and Waterville, two towns within my school district. I cannot say enough good things about either of these places. There are local producers, farms, stores, organizations, churches, and a wellness center all leading exciting initiatives to better their towns. Not to mention, the staff and students of Allamakee have made my service immensely gratifying. Administration constantly supports my projects, teachers ask for lessons, and the food service staff is out of this world supportive and will go the extra mile to create wholesome meals.
I appreciated my good fortune serving in Allamakee when Mrs. Jill Roffman, Bright Beginnings Pre-K teacher, approached me about lessons this past summer. Jill wanted to begin “Farm to Pre-School” in her class, focusing on one local food item a month. To kick off the year, we toured the raised beds in the courtyard of the junior high/high school. Barely taller than our raised beds, students were dedicated to hunting for ripe cherry tomatoes and peppers. The looks on their faces reminded me of why I serve. Their excitement at harvesting vegetables demonstrates the need for all students to engage with the food they eat. It helps students make connections to their community and local agriculture; it helps them call a place home.