Weekly Bits – Feb 5

Elanor Starmer, administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development director for the state of Iowa, were in Dubuque last week to visit with farmers, farm to school champions, economic development and public health partners.

 

“It’s really shown me there is some incredibly innovative work taking place in this region that can be a model for the rest of the country, in terms of showing how to bring all of those partners together and figuring out projects that benefit the whole community.” -Elanor Starmer

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

MUST READ

A new report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists finds $3 billion boon to Iowa’s economy if supermarkets, restaurants and schools bought more locally grown food. “Midsize farms could contribute roughly half that added revenue. Iowa lost roughly 6,000 midsize family farms from 2007 to 2012, but beefed up local-food markets could return nearly three-quarters of those farms to the state.”

 

The annual data collection of the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative contributed heavily to this report. I also think it beautifully explains the rationale and motivation behind our work to support small and mid-sized farms.
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Several interns worked with FFI during their winter break. Kate Lower spent some time at her hometown high school, attended a Legislative Breakfast at the capital and the Iowa Bicycle Summit.

Justine Heinitz‘s experience affirmed that she is on the right career path. “Watching such a positive reaction from these kids really changed my perspective about my college studies and whatever may happen beyond that. I knew I wanted to go into the health field prior to this internship, but now, I am more sure than ever that I am in the right place.”

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

We all enjoy going outside when the weather is nice, but no one would argue that it’s more challenging in the winter. But it is worth the time and energy to get children outside.  Children need outdoor time in the winter months (weather permitting) just like in the summer. In fact, research shows that children who have outdoor time in the winter are actually healthier. Click here for tips to make winter play, safe.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Nashua Middle School kids led a few stations at their Fun Fitness Day where all of the Middle School students transitioned through a variety of fitness activities; one including the popular bike blender!

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

On Tuesday, February 9 from 3:30-4:30pm a webinar will be held for elementary teachers and school staff that will  include strategies to incorporate more nutrition education and physical activity into the school day. Ideas will be shared on how to make it happen while making it fun and enhance learning at the same time! Participants will learn about free resources from Team Nutrition and tips for school wellness success. Presenters include: Anne Cundiff RD, LD FAND and Kathryn Thompson RDN, LD from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

 

BEST PRACTICE: FLAVOR STATIONS Several schools in NE Iowa have seen success with “Flavor Stations” or “Spice Stations” in lunchrooms. The stations are a great way to give students a way to experiment with different flavors for their food beyond added salt, sugar or fat.

 

PARTNER NEWS
TIP OF THE WEEK:

Did you know that nutrition is the area of wellness that Iowans struggle with most, particularly fruit and vegetable consumption? Iowa is currently ranked 49th nationally by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The Healthiest State Initiative of Iowa is working hard to meet their goal of becoming the healthiest state in the nation. They offer some tips to get us eating more produce.

 
COMMUNITIES SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES
THANKS to the Oneota Community Food Co-op for giving a face to Decorah’s CSA farmers. The co-op launched a website, http://csadecorah.com/ to help residents find the farms offering Community Supported Agriculture shares for the 2016 season.

Subscribe to the Bits.

Weekly Bits – Jan 22

Junior Food & Fitness Club members at Central learned how to make spring rolls. Spring rolls are a great activity for kids. Youth are exposed to new ingredients and are usually super excited about all of the beautiful colors. Spring rolls are also ideal for a larger group because there is a lot of prep involved and everyone gets to make their own. Anyone that works with kids knows that you want busy hands!

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

“Unlike most of the K-12 educators we work with in schools across the country, FoodCorps service members don’t have tests to prepare our students for, we don’t have the pressure of teacher accountability if our students don’t meet certain learning benchmarks, and we always have really fun material to work with,” says FoodCorps memer Elin Amundson. “Maybe they’ll start to equate gardening, or cooking, or eating fruits and vegetables with positive vibes, self-respect, and happy memories.”

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

The Decorah School Wellness team created Yoga in the Classroom videos to enable teachers to easily bring yoga into the classroom. Yoga (mindful movement) has many benefits , including flexibility, a calm mind, improved self-esteem, and increased focus. There are several elementary and middle school videos available.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Meeting w Coop Local Producer 2016
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

What do “Hot Wheels” and “Cheese” have in common? Creativity, imagination and trying new foods in an early education setting.

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

New Hampton high school student, Lanie Breitbach, assisted faculty in the application of a grant which funded the installation of a water bottle filling station at New Hampton Middle School.

 

PARTNER NEWS

CONGRATULATIONS!
Duane Willhite, superintendent of the North Fayette and Valley Community school districts, was a nominee for the 2015-16 Iowa Superintendent of the Year award sponsored by the School Administrators of Iowa. Willhite is a member of the FFI Regional Council.

 

Oelwein school’s Husky Adventures was awarded a second 21st Century Before- and After-School federal grant. FoodCorps member Molly Schintler hosts healthy living camps for the program. The grant puts about $160,000 into the school district per year.

 

#IamFFI  The Oelwein School District has created a wellness page on their district website that links to the FFI Bits each week.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

Want your kids to eat (and love) greens? Use the “starter salad” approach.

 
COMMUNITIES SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES

THANK YOU – Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative was recently awarded a $500 mini-grant by the Allamakee County Community Foundation to support the construction of a new raised bed garden at East Elementary School. This will be the second school garden in the Allamakee Community School District, and will provide wonderful hands-on educational opportunities for the students at East.

Subscribe to the Bits

 

 

Weekly Bits – January 15

The FFI service members celebrated Martin Luther King Day with a Day of Service. They assembled close to 100 lasagnas for donation to area food banks and communities in our region. Thanks to the numerous organizations who donated to the project!

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Practical Farmers of Iowa has released its line-up of winter farminars. These 90-minute online seminars are free and produced to help farmers learn about business and production issues that matter to them from the convenience of their homes.

 

The inaugural Iowa Small Farms Conference is scheduled for Feb.13 in Ames, Iowa. Keynote speaker Daniel Salatin of Polyface Farms will be featured along with a wide variety of educational options, a trade show, lunch and giveaways.

 

The January Farm to School Harvest of the Month is cheese. This month’s Cross-Age teaching lessons featured cheeses from WW Homestead Dairy, Yellow River Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms.

 
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Last month ‘beets’ were our featured food of the month in early education throughout NE Iowa. Prior to the month I had numerous teachers tell me they were apprehensive about connecting beets with the local food lessons. They didn’t think children would like beets. Well, the pictures say it all.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission is partnering with Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments (INRCOG) and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition to help INRCOG start their own regional SRTS effort.INRCOG is now searching for an individual to serve as their SRTS Coordinator. The SRTS Coordinator will work within the rural region surrounding Waterloo/Cedar Falls.

 
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Cafeteria Coaching is a program developed by Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative that uses middle and high school students along with school nutrition staff to encourage kids to try new foods and eat nutritious school meals. To learn more about the Cafeteria Coaching program join Iowa Team Nutrition for a webinar on January 26 at 3:30 pm. All those that participate will the opportunity to apply for a $250 sub-grant to implement the program in their school.

 
SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

Have you been looking for ways to put your energy towards something meaningful? To address your community’s health in concrete ways? To address issues of food justice by getting your hands dirty? Start your year right: apply to become a FoodCorps service member.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture share a responsibility to the American public to ensure that advancements in scientific understanding about the role of nutrition in health are incorporated into the Dietary Guidelines on a regular basis. Therefore, every five years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services releases a new set of  2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are designed to improve the health of the U.S. population. The 2015-2020 guidelines were released January 7, and map out a clear path for people to follow to optimize health and prevent chronic disease.  What does this mean for us as consumers and educators? Here are some key takeaways from the new guidelines.

 

COMMUNITIES SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES

THANKS to the Oneota Community Food Co-op for letting us use their wonderful kitchen space for the RC Day of Service! And let’s not forget the local farmers and businesses in the region who donated ingredients. Patchwork Green Farm, Fareway Stores, Quillin’s, Swiss Valley Farms, Echollective Farm & CSA and many MORE!

 

Subscribe to the Bits.

Weekly Bits – January 8

Regional Youth Leadership Team (RYLT) members from 14 4-H youth teams around the region gathered in December — discussing and presenting on ways they can make improvements in their schools and communities around improved nutrition, food access and boosting physical activity. And, they are listening.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

ISU Extension and Outreach seeks a full-time Food Systems Specialist to work with northeast Iowa farms and food businesses to enhance the viability of local agriculture through increased production, product diversification, business development, direct marketing, and promotion of local products and value-added opportunities. Applications due Jan. 15. Learn more

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

The NE Iowa preschoolers learn a lot about pumpkins and winter squash in November. It sounds like they also used a lot of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math skills) in the process.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

SCHOOL TRAIL Students at Riceville School will soon have a complete walking trail following approval of completion by the district’s board of education. During the Monday, Dec. 14 board of education meeting, members approved completing the remaining 20-feet around the elementary school playground which runs along the right field fence of the high school softball field.

 

WINTER MARATHON CHALLENGE This January is your chance to see if you can run, walk, bike, ski, snowshoe or play outside to equal a total of 26 miles between January 1 and 31! Complete your miles with your families, kids, and friends at your own pace, whenever it works for your schedule. http://www.winneshiekwild.com/

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

FARM TO SCHOOL WEBINARS  Have you resolved to incorporate more local food into your school meal program in 2016? USDA F2S is hosting a farm to school webinar series titled Planning for Farm to School Success. Through this 11-part series, they’ll guide you through the USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit. Served up in bite-sized 30 minute webinars, they’ll offer questions to consider and helpful resources to reference when starting or growing a farm to school program.

 

REGISTRATION IS OPEN for the Live Healthy Iowa Kids 10-Week Wellness Challenge. This is FREE program for youth in grades K-12 across the state of Iowa. This challenge inspires youth to be more active and make better food and beverage choices.

 

SCHOOL GARDEN 101  The School Garden 101 class will be offered in Oelwein this winter at Wings Elementary. SG 101 is hands-on workshop series for high school, junior high, middle school and elementary school staff wanting to plan or better utilize a school garden. The class will be taught by on Wednesdays, Feb 24, Mar 2, 9, 16, 23. Teams can include school staff as well as community members and Master Gardeners. Contact Teresa for more information, wiemer@iastate.edu.

 

PARTNER NEWS

BULLDOG WIA  The Bulldog WIA Facebook page launched on January 1. The purpose of the page is to share and promote the wellness activities happening at MFL MarMac schools. Like and share!

 

SEEKING BOARD MEMBERS  Allamakee New Beginnings, the non-profit host of the Iowa Food Hub, has three board positions opening.  The board meets every month in person or by phone.  Board terms are for 3 years and will start in April. Any interested person in the six county region is welcome to apply.

 

DADS CAN COOK, TOO Dads – Are you interested in freshening up your cooking skills and learning a trick or two in the kitchen? Dinner with Dad is a parent-child cooking course to master basic cooking skills, prepare some delicious recipes, and even go home with the skills and ingredients to replicate them at home. Hurry! Classes start Jan 14 in Waukon!

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

January is National Soup Month and what a great time to experiment with making those soups and stews more healthy for you and your family. Here are some great tips for healthy soups. The Junior FFI club at Central is also getting into the soup madness by experimenting with ways to use up their bounty of kale from the school garden.

 

COMMUNITIES SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES

Thank you to the Central Community Hospital Foundation for the generous donation of twelve yoga mats to the MFL MarMac schools! The mats will be used for Morning Yoga (currently offered at the McGregor Center), a Middle School PE unit and possibly other future programming as well.

 

FFI relies on communities to support community work. You can help us continue to fund these opportunities through your gift today to the Food & Fitness Endowment at the Allamakee County Community Foundation.

 

Subscribe to the Bits.

http://iowafoodandfitness.us7.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=5153a2b46db5347563d21effe&id=ddd8a76050

Weekly Bits – Dec 18

Recess got a little more inventive for MFL MarMac elementary students this fall, as the blacktop in their playground area transformed into a colorful network of games and activities, thanks to two high school art classes. More.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Food blogger, Deb Thompson recently visited northeast Iowa. She writes, “An invite to Decorah, Iowa netted some of the most interesting experiences and finds. I had no idea that this quiet, small community in NE Iowa would be home to a vibrant farm to table community with so many entrepreneurship minded individuals. I love that so many Iowans are living out their dreams and embracing the life they want. Makes my free spirit heart very happy. So what did I find there that was so exciting to discover? Read on for an adventure in Iowa’s farm to table culture.”

 
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

We are in the midst of the holiday season and I know everyone has their wish list full of things they dream about. This week I had the best two surprises I could have asked for in my work of Early Education.

 
ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Beat the Winter Blues! Are you looking for a way to help keep the Winter Blues at bay? Are you ready to tackle a fitness New Year’s Resolution? Do you need a little extra motivation to help keep you and your family active despite the cold weather?  Join the Beat the Blues Winter Marathon Challenge! This January is your chance to see if you can run, walk, bike, ski, snowshoe or play outside to equal a total of 26 miles between January 1 and 31!

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

“Did you know that sometimes we have to teach our tongue to like things?”
“Sometimes we have to try things many times before we like it!”
“Don’t be afraid to keep trying!”

 

These are phrases that you’ll probably hear coming from many of the lessons that we teach as Food and Fitness resource contacts. We are all about teaching kids to try new things – to be adventurous – to challenge themselves. It seems like such small act – getting a child to try that sweet potato which they’re pretty unsure about but then end up LOVING. But actually this is a HUGE act.

 

The Harvest of the Month food for December was beets. Central students did a taste-test of three kids of beets – with the golden beets being the favorite.

 
PARTNER NEWS

KRESS NAMED WKKF TRUSTEE  The W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced the election of a new trustee to its board of directors, a new board chair, as well as the re-election of its trustees and officers during its annual meeting. Cathann Kress of Ames, Iowa, will join the board in January, bringing the number of trustees to nine. Kress is Iowa State University’s vice president for extension and outreach and a tenured professor in the school of education.

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY HHKA! Five years ago, on December 13, 2010, a bipartisan Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA)—which brought nutrition standards for schools into accord with federal dietary guidelines.The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is doing exactly what it was supposed to do: improve the nutritional quality of school foods. The impact in NE Iowa was mentioned in a blog post this week from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 

NEW YEAR HIKES  Iowa State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes in 17 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1 at a state park close to home. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

Hunting and fishing are part of the local food system. The Iowa shotgun deer seasons started in December and the local lockers are busy! Unfortunately, many people do not know how to cook with venison, so it goes to waste. Venison is similar in structure and taste to beef and pork, so it can be substituted for beef or pork in most recipes. Here are some more ideas.

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! The FFI staff will be on winter break for two weeks. See you in 2016!

 

Weekly Bits – Dec 11

Over 50 healthcare partners and community stakeholders recently convened in Decorah to talk about partnership and messaging opportunities. We are very excited about the level of interest and commitment shown by local hospitals, practitioners, and public health.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

What does mindfulness look like? What does it feel like? How does it work? Mindfulness as described by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Before beginning cooking classes, see how some students in Decorah are taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness.
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

HW Cross age 2015

Crestwood Middle School FFI 4-H Club is offering taste tests on Friday’s during homebase time to their fellow students and staff members. Last month they offered pumpkin, passing with an 86% approval rate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Help bring dedicated SRTS funding to Iowa! Funding to support active school travel, safety education and safe community routes! Funding that will benefit everyone, not just kids and schools! Let your support for SRTS be known during the Healthier Iowa Coalition Legislative Breakfast at the Capitol- Jan. 13, 7-9a in Des Moines. Contact Ashley achristensen@uerpc.org by Dec. 18 if you are interested in carpooling down from NE IA for the event.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

GGAP certificate comp

Nick Mabe and I were recently in the Washington DC area meeting with the nine GroupGAP pilots sites and the USDA to talk about the official roll-out of the program this April.

“Certificate of Appreciation for your partnership in developing the USDA’s GroupGAP certification program, which creates market opportunities for small and medium-sized growers by making food safety certification accessible and attainable.”
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
A different local food is featured as the Harvest of the Month in northeast Iowa schools and preschools. Cabbage was the featured food in October. See how the area preschools celebrated.

 

PARTNER NEWS

CONGRATULATIONS to WW Homestead Dairy and the other Iowa awardees of the USDA Value Added Producer Grants. WWHD will receive $250,000 to process, package, market and deliver local, non-homogenized, pasteurized milk and ice cream and other dairy products. LimeSprings Beef, LLC dba Upper Iowa Beef will also receive $250,000 for working capital for their beef processing facility.

 

ENDOWMENT REACHES MILESTONE With the help of a $2,500 Allamakee County Community Foundation Seeds for Success grant, FFI has established an endowed fund at the Foundation to provide a reliable and sustainable source of income.  The Seeds for Success program provides a $2,500 challenge grant to area nonprofits with the goal of them raising at least a $7,500 match for a total of $10,000 to establish a sustaining endowment. Once an endowment reaches the $10,000 milestone, the fund will payout 5% every year to help support the work of the nonprofit forever.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

If you like to give family and friends something that you’ve made yourself, check out this list of recipes for seasonings that could be used as salt alternatives. Put them into fun glass jars and spread the holiday cheer!

Weekly Bits – Nov 25

This Thanksgiving, we offer special thanks for your friendship and support and send out best wishes for this holiday season!

IMG_0065

Thanks to our wonderful walking school bus drivers and the parents who encourage their children to be active.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 07 Postville head start garden

Thanks for the childcare providers who have embrace Farm to Preschool and are introducing children to healthy, local foods and natural play spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the wonderful school food service directors and school garden champions helping to connect kids to their food and community.

Thanks for the wonderful school food service directors and school garden champions helping to connect kids to their food and community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for the opportunity to work with so many passionate youth and supportive adults to carry out healthy initiatives to make their school environments and communities better.

Thankful for the opportunity to work with so many passionate youth and supportive adults to carry out healthy initiatives to make their school environments and communities better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for a local food hub that facilitates food access project like the food pantry coupon program (left) and delivered over $72,000 of food to area school districts.

Thankful for a local food hub that facilitates food access project like the food pantry coupon program (left) and delivered over $72,000 of food to area school districts.