Weekly FFI Bits – April 11

REGIONAL FEEST - Smiles to our FFI 4-H youth who attended the Youth/Adult FEEST (Food Empowerment Education and Sustainability Team) last Friday. These youth members worked together to prepare a delicious, healthy meal while learning about the local food community. Members also led discussions with local community members and school board members. Watch the video.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Out and about…Postville, Central, North Fayette Valley, Riceville and Allamakee spring Safe Routes to School activity planning; Clayton County Wellness Fair with Bike Blender; Howard-Winneshiek and Central Walking School Bus route walk-throughs; Joined Decorah, Waterville and West Union Walking School Buses and West Central Fitness Club.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
Spring is finally here and we need to get moving. A new study by researchers in the U.K. suggests a correlation between a mother’s physical activity and that of her young children. Even small increases can have profound impacts for moms and kids.

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
The Allamakee New Beginnings Board of Directors has announced that Nick Mabe has been promoted to Coordinator of the Iowa Food Hub.  In his new role, he will be the primary contact for the food hub and will manage daily operations.  He will continue to work with NE Iowa Food & Fitness and ISU Extension partners on research and market development projects.  More.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Ashley Turk, Food Corps
“If this were a TV show, it would be called the Walking School Bus. You know, like the Magic School Bus, but better.” ~Oelwein student.   These are the happy musings of elementary school students that greeted the spring revival of the walking school bus in Oelwein; over fifty children walked to school during its return in April. Held monthly, the event is a fantastic opportunity for exercise before the school day.

 

No Bits Next Week.

We are taking a break for spring and to attend the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Austin, TX with a small army – 4 food service directors, a teacher, 2 FoodCorps members, 2 FFI staffers…. (We’re very excited!)

 

 

Weekly FFI Bits – April 4

EXPLORERS  – Decorah first graders recently took a field trip across the street to visit the greenhouse at the high school. Everyone planted, filled flats with soil, made name tags for their seeds, and toured the green house to see what plants are growing.  Elsewhere, the sprinklers didn’t stop the MFL MarMac students from their greenhouse tour.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
National Bike to School Day is coming up on Wednesday, May 7. Plan a walk/bike to school event to celebrate the benefits of being active! Register your walk/bike to school event at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/ or contact Ashley (achristensen@uerpc.org) for assistance. Registered schools will have access to cool freebies!

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
As the Early Childhood Coordinator for FFI there are times I ask myself, “Is this work making a difference?”    Well, I received my answer this past week.

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

A dozen farmers, master gardeners and market growers recently attended a workshop hosted by ISU Extension and Outreach to learn the art of tomato grafting.  Grafting in horticultural plants is increasing seen as a means to improve plant growth, control disease, impart tolerance to temperature and salt stress, and increase nutrient uptake.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Lynette Houser
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is holding Connecting Learning and Living training that will feature more than 100 researched-based and hands-on lessons for teachers, home school, afterschool, 4-H, youth group leaders, community garden organizers, day camp coordinators and master gardeners working with children in kindergarten-sixth grade on April 14 at Black Hawk County Extension.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal
The Turkey Valley high school students participated in an all-day fitness day in March. The students visited the Cresco Fitness Center for an action packed day.  Meanwhile back at the school, the elementary students participated in a 30-minute color walk.  Check out the pics!

 

PROJECT COORDINATOR – Ann Mansfield

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Food & Fitness!  Did you know that NE Iowa FFI is 7 years old?  Our work started on April 1, 2007.  Thanks for being part of our journey!

 

 

Weekly FFI Bits – March 28

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Iowa trail systems appear to be shielded from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that have advocates nervous about current and future recreational trails.  The case addresses who has rights to land where railroad lines have been abandoned. More.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
Head Start Parent Survey results regarding Farm to Preschool program are encouraging!

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Doing any spring cleaning?  Consider a donation to Spectrum Industries.  The Spectrum Network is finishing renovations on the former Wonder Hostess Bakery Outlet in Decorah to transform a portion of the building into the Spectrum Thrift Store.  Spectrum Thrift Store is Phase I of the three phase business plan for the building, with the other two phases consisting of a food aggregation and cold storage unit and a future commercial grade community kitchen.  More.

 

It is maple syrup season!  Green’s Sugar Bush (Castalia) is hosting their annual pancake days on March 30 and April 6 starting at 10 am.
..Pancakes, sausage and all the extras
..Fresh maple syrup
..Bulk syrup available-BYO containers
..Wagon rides through the woods
..Pony rides for the kids

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Lynette Houser
A group of volunteer gardeners, along with several enthusiastic children, have worked diligently at the Postville School Garden and the 4-H Garden Club.  The project has continued to grow over the past several years.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal
As we near the end of our fifth year of work with schools, we are working hard to make this work sustainable by embedding it directly in schools and fostering community investment in healthy kids!  Over the the last several months, I have been meeting with several school administrators on how we can transfer more ownership of this work to schools and embed members more fully in school communities.  Schools are currently deciding at which level they will support a service member for the 2014-15 school year.

 

PROJECT COORDINATOR – Ann Mansfield
FFI was represented at a meeting in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Union for Concerned Scientists on March 10-11.  The purpose of this meeting was to create a vision for the Good Food for All movement, identify strategies and outcomes and develop a presentation for the upcoming WKKF Food & Community meeting.  During this meeting this group was challenged this to identify how we can overcome the power of financial investment that this movement cannot match…how can we reach the “many verses the money”.  How do we achieve the political and economic power that will lead to productive conversations about equitable access to healthy food for everyone in our country?  NE Iowa FFI’s food system work is integrating many of these sectors in efforts to create the conditions in communities where access to local healthy food is increased for all!

 

PARTNER NEWS
Great Give Day – May 6.  The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and affiliate foundations in Allamakee and Clayton counties are excited to announce Great Give Day, a 24-hour, online giving event designed to recognize and support the positive work of local nonprofits in Northeast Iowa!  This is a great opportunity to give to the NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative and have your donation matched!

 

dairy center robot openNICC and the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation cut the ribbon on the new Robotic Milking Center addition to Iowa’s Dairy Center in Calmar this week.  Robotic technology is one way to attract beginning farmers to the industry.  Congratulations to NICC and their partners!

 

 

 

 

Weekly FFI Bits – March 21

JOIN BUY FRESH, BUY LOCAL
The Northeast Iowa Food & Farm Coalition (NIFF) is updating the Local Food Directory for Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties.  The directory includes listings for producers of local foods as well as farmers markets, stores and restaurants featuring local food.  Four membership levels are available including a new level for BFBL Community Supporters.  Join today!

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Spring Walking School Buses are on the move! West Union started earlier this week…Waterville starts next week…Elgin starts in April…more communities starting later this spring!  Kudos to Decorah, Riceville and Oelwein for walking through the bitter winter!

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
March Is National Nutrition Month! Learning to lead a healthy lifestyle begins during the early years. Some children can be ‘picky eaters’.  I am sharing a post from ‘The Scoop on Food and Nutrition’ by Elisa Zied. She writes “I think toddlerhood is one of the toughest and important times of feeding because it’s when parents get off track. Here are 5 common feeding mistakes followed by easy fixes.” Read More at Parents.com.

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
I recently attended a forum hosted by the UNI Local Food program.  One of the featured businesses that day was the new local food processing facility that opened in Marshalltown.  We know that food aggregation and food processing are the keys to launching the regional food system to the next level.  I look forward to purchasing these products as they become more readily available.  Here is the article in the WCF Courier about the presentation.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Lynette Houser
Once a month, the 8th graders from Decorah Middle School walk over and spend lunch offering taste tests to 3rd and 4th grade students at Carrie Lee Elementary.  These Cafeteria Coaches use several different methods to getting 3rd and 4th graders to try new foods. Some methods include the “I’ll do it if You do it,” the “Way with Words”, and finally the “Dance Reward.”  More.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Ashely Turk, FoodCorps
I am forever grateful for the support network that has grown during my year of service with FoodCorps. This network continually supports, challenges, and pushes me to live a more grounded, health-centered life.  This support came in handy during a national visit in February, when visiting Iowa FoodCorps service members assisted with my cooking club in Waukon. We made “rainbow vegetable pizza” and “avocado and agave pudding” with fruit for dipping. In the midst of the busy work of the kitchen, over the giggles of students, I could not help but think “there is no where else in the world I would rather be right now.” More.

 

PROJECT COORDINATOR – Ann Mansfield
I spent part of last week in Washington, DC networking with champions of the Good Food movement.  Group members built on the momentum of an earlier gathering by asking the four working groups to report on progress to date, and by continuing the creative thinking and strategy discussions in those areas. I joined the policy discussions where we talked about how policy change is broader than legislative action.  Cooperative buisness models, community currency and a living wage can all be influencers.

 

PARTNER NEWS
ISU Extension and Outreach in Region 4 is accepting applications for a new staff position to support food and fitness activities in northeast Iowa: ISUEO Regional Youth and Nutrition Coordinator.  This position will help the organization connect more deeply to the FFI 4-H youth, volunteers and schools.  Please share this information with potential applicants who may be interested in helping us support and expand our outreach to FFI 4-H youth teams, community FEEST groups, and community nutrition education.

 

 

 

 

Weekly FFI Bits – March 14

GOT BEEF?
Got Beef? The Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI) is interested in providing locally raised beef to schools. We are looking for beef producers who are interested in becoming part of a supply pool coordinated by the Iowa Food Hub. We are also currently accepting bids for a market cow to be used for a pilot this spring. Click here to learn more.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The Food and Fitness Bike Blender, our super cool human-powered smoothie machine, has been on the move: Postville Parent-Teacher Conferences, Oelwein Head Start Parent Night, Clayton County 4-H Clover Kid Day, North Winneshiek Community Wellness Fair…over 600 smoothies served in February! Bring the Bike Blender to your school or community event by contacting Ashley at 563-382-6171 or achristensen@uerpc.org.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
From a preschool teacher: “After the ‘eggs in a hole’ activity a parent emailed and said his son was so excited about it.  He said, ‘Dad, why don’t you make me this at home?  Don’t worry, just get me a cookie cutter and now I can make it for you!’”  This is the kind of lifelong impact a teacher and a Farm to Preschool program can make in a child’s life.

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has awarded grants to 24 innovative research and demonstration projects that will help Iowa farmers improve soil health, take advantage of opportunities related to local foods and fine-tune alternative practices that protect the environment while using fewer outside inputs.  Three grants will have connections to FFI work in Northeast Iowa.

 

The high school students trained as farm to school cross-age teachers recently reflected on their experiences in the classroom. Shaina Kriener says her favorite part is, “Just seeing how happy they are to see us and to try new foods; especially if they haven’t had them before.”  Crestwood is the largest cross-age teaching program in the region with 49 student-teachers.

Another blog post from MFL MarMac features quotes from the elementary students.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal, FoodCorps, AmeriCorps
Increasing breakfast participation rates at schools has been a priority focus for our FoodCorps and AmeriCorps service members this year.  A well-balanced breakfast offers an important nutritional foundation for a productive and healthy day, at any age. School breakfast fosters success in the classroom, and also plays a critical role in helping children develop healthy habits that last a lifetime.  Read how Central schools celebrated National School Breakfast Week with free breakfast for all!

 

 

 

 

Weekly FFI Bits – March 7

Dan Christenson close cropDIALOGUE WITH DAN
FFI Operations Team members and community partners had a great visit with Dan Christenson on Thursday.  Christenson works for the USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services as Chief of Staff. FFI team members had the opportunity to share successes and challenges related to school food and early childhood outreach.  They also talked about challenges related to providing SNAP benefits at farmers markets and through the food hub. More.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Out and about throughout the region:  Riceville Walking Wednesday, North Fayette Valley Safe Routes to School Coalition Meeting, West Central Fitness Club, Turkey Valley and Postville Bike Rodeo Planning, Quarterly Active Living Work Group Meeting, Postville Mileage Club, North Winneshiek Community Wellness Fair, Waterville Walking School Bus Route Walk-through.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
I had the privileged to meet Ken Finch, the founder and President of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood about 2 years ago at Luther College when Jon Jensen invited him to speak about nature play and the benefits it brings to children and families. In my early childhood work, I often reflect back to our conversation. People don’t always realize children need risk to develop. Read more about the risk and rewards of outdoor natural play.

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Your Data is Needed!  Each year, the NE IA Food and Farm Coalition collects data on local food sales and purchases in Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette,Howard and Winneshiek counties.  This is the eighth year we are collecting information.  This data provides key indicators for economic impact, business development, and marketing information toward increased local food production.  This information is also important to secure grants and other outside funding and support for our work.  If you are a farmer or an institutional buyer, click here to participate in the survey.

 

1922271_740176969348896_340929759_nEvery five years, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts a comprehensive census of American farmers to collect all sorts of demographic, economic and production data.  The preliminary data was recently released.  Click here to learn 5 things about the new farm census.

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Lynette Houser
Students from the Allamakee Community School District recently gathered in the Waukon High School to kick off the Live Healthy Iowa Kids K-12 Cup Challenge, a program designed to increase student participation in the 10-Week Wellness Challenge offered each year by the Live Healthy Iowa campaign.  The local effort above was facilitated by the Food & Fitness Initiative student group at Waukon High School. More.

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal, FoodCorps, AmeriCorps
Spring IS coming, and we are making plans for this coming growing season for our school gardens throughout the region!  We are always looking for help! If you garden or if you would like to learn, we would love to have you participate with us this year. Some school gardens have summer garden programs and could use a master gardener willing to teach a lesson during the summer while others are simply tended by teachers, parents, students and other community members who pitch in to keep the garden going.  However you see yourself fitting in, we would love to talk with you about the possibilities!  More.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FFI Winter Newsletter Available

We love email, but sometimes the news deserves to be printed to be fully appreciated. Once a quarter, we select our best stories to be published as a newsletter that can be printed, shared and enjoyed.

 

Your copy of the Winter edition of the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness newsletter is waiting for you.  Click here to read or print your copy.

 

In This Edition:

  • Read how an AmeriCorps service member comes face to face with food insecurity
  • See how preschool classrooms are learning about local yogurt and farming
  • Meet teen leaders who are advocating for healthy changes
  • Check out West Central’s after-school fitness clubs
  • Read about the economic impact of local foods in Iowa
  • Join us as we show appreciation for those who contributed to our Direct and Endowed Funds in 2013. 

 

 

snow shovel

Weekly Bits – Feb. 21

P1030502GETTING DIRTY
Even though this has been a very snowy winter, North Winn Kindergarteners planted their first seeds on Tuesday.  The class worked together to plant yellow and red onions, as well as leeks. The seeds are pretty tiny, and look like a speck of soil, so it was a little challenging for the kids to see where they were putting the seeds. Just the smell of the dirt is a reminder that warmer, garden-filled times are ahead!

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The Iowa Safe Routes to School Program is hosting a walk/bike to school contest for elementary schools across the state this spring. The school with the most walk/bike trips between April 21 and May 2 will win a grand prize! All other schools will receive a participation prize. Schools must sign up by March 27. More info.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
We are pleased to announce the Early Childhood resources and the ‘Together We Grow Healthy Kids/5-2-1-0’ message are now available in Spanish.  Please check out the Early Childhood page at www.iowafoodandfitness.org

Tenemos el placer de anunciar a los recursos para la primera infancia y la ‘Together We Grow Kids/5-2-1-0 Saludable “mensaje ya están disponibles en español. Por favor revise la página de la Primera Infancia en www.iowafoodandfitness.org

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Howard County Economic Development will be partnering with the Iowa State University Community Design Lab (CDL) on their research involving the creation of an agricultural urbanism toolkit for Iowa communities.  CDL will be working with 3 communities of different scales and different priorities.  Cresco’s participation will help create a tool that will be used in communities locally, regionally, and nationally to improve local and regional food system design. This project can increase access to healthy food and revitalize towns with agricultural urbanism components.  More.

 

PARTNER NEWS – MJ Smith, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque
For several decades, teachers and people who serve children have told us about the changes they are seeing in kids, particularly regarding readiness/ability to learn. A new report on ACE (adverse childhood experience) now quantifies how child abuse, violence, mental illness and other adverse experiences interferes with normal brain development and also fosters negative adult health impacts. As community leaders, we should read the report and use it to filter our decision-making around funding childhood programs – particularly those aimed at providing support for vulnerable families.

 

FFI COORDINATION – Ann Mansfield
We often talk to young people and adults about the importance of role-modeling the healthy behaviors you are trying to create.  FFI core partner organizations take that responsibility seriously.  Read how Luther College and Upper Explorerland are creating healthy work environments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Bits for Feb. 14

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Parks are America’s preferred destination for getting active. Visit a local park today…your health will thank you!

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
With the recent research on outdoor play indicating that children will grow up healthier and happier because of a connection to nature, it prompted me to ask NICC Early Childhood Students – “Why is it important that children experience nature?

 

REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
“…the rising demand for fresh, indigenous produce has spawned new markets — from grocers to restaurants to school cafeterias — that are making it possible for more Midwestern farmers to give fruits and vegetables a go…The success of this movement, still in its toddler stage, could affect more than just the farmers.”  In case you missed it: check out The New York Times’ piece on Iowa corn farmers diversifying their operations to include new crops and new distribution models – like direct-marketing and community-supported agriculture.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Lynette Houser

“Every day is Thanksgiving with FEEST,” says Katt Hudson, a senior at Evergreen High School in Seattle. FEEST is a youth-driven program that combines weekly after-school meals with education on food systems, community engagement and personal growth. Five years since it began, FEEST is expanding to other sites including northeast Iowa.  Read more.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Ashley Turk, FoodCorps
“I normally wouldn’t eat this, but since we grew it, I want to try it!”  When these words tumbled out of a Waukon seventh grader’s mouth, I nearly fell over- it’s not everyday that students line up to eat radishes (even though I wish that was not the case). I learned a wonderful lesson that day. Students who are engaged in the growing of vegetables are ten million times more likely to consume them.  More.

 

FFI COORDINATION – Ann Mansfield
For many children in our region and state, school food is a critical part of their daily nutrition.  The opportunity for FFI to partner with schools and increase the access to local healthy food in school food programs for all children in our region is a top priority.  You may be surprised to learn about the increased numbers of Free and Reduced participants over the last 10 years.  Recently, Ann Feilmann with the Iowa Department of Education – Bureau of Nutrition gave a presentation where she showed the growing rates in a series of slides. This is the very real story of hunger for children in our state.

 

 

 

Weekly Bits for Feb. 7

food box cabbage compJANUARY WORKSITE FOOD BOX
The worksite food box from the Iowa Food Hub continues to deliver — even in January.  An Iowa City customer says, “This program is great! The meats, eggs, milk, and bread are always fantastic, and you’ve introduced me to veggies that I’ve never tried before and had no idea even could be grown in Iowa.”  Interested in bringing the food box to your workplace? Email sales@iowafoodhub.com or call Nick at 563.203.1856.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The first statewide Safe Routes to School Meeting for Iowa was held in conjunction with the Iowa Bike Summit and Expo in Des Moines last month. Regional Safe Routes to School Liaison Ashley Christensen attended and presented on the growing Safe Routes to School movement in Northeast Iowa.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
NICC Early Education students were asked recently to describe a favorite memory from their childhood about natural play that they would wish for all children to experience.  Read more.

 

By the Spoonful owner Katherine Ruff has won the Northeast Iowa Dream Big, Grow Here competition, earning $5,000 for her business, as well as a trip to the state competition.  Ruff’s plan includes renovating the basement of her specialty food store in McGregor, into a certified commercial kitchen so that she can expand into catering and create take-and-bake meals for customers.  In its second year, the business grant competition has recognized a business that is part of the regional food system as its winner.  WW Homestead Dairy of Waukon was the regional winner in 2013.  More.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Lynette Houser
One of the outcomes we see in the FFI 4-H youth engagement work is the development of young, productive citizens.  Our service members are great role models for the younger students. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jake Geis and the other AmeriCorps members volunteered with the Luther College Cafeteria to Community program.  They have signed on to spend the evening scooping, packing, counting, and labeling the meal packages for the food pantry for one night each month, until the end of their service term.  More.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal, School Wellness Coordinator
Congratulations to the Decorah school wellness team.  They have received a grant from Iowa Team Nutrition to host an Empowered Parents for School Wellness Workshop.  The  1 ½ hour workshop provided by a Registered Dietitian (RD) will empower parents to be champions of school wellness and gain a better understanding of school meals.

 

FFI COORDINATION – Ann Mansfield
Each week, the WK Kellogg Foundation curates the top news from the “good food” movement, giving special attention to news featuring Food & Community grantees and allies. This edition from Jan. 24, 2014 was particularly interesting.

 

PARTNER NEWS
A needs assessment completed by ISU Extension and Outreach has identified the future program priorities for the organization in northeast Iowa.  The survey asked participants to choose which 5 of 23 issues were most important to Iowa and their community.  These top three issues were ranked by over 50 percent of respondents in northeast Iowa:  strengthening families; youth who are productive citizens and leaders; and economic development in communities.