Weekly Bits – May 15

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

“If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?“ The peppers were at northeast Iowa preschools. Peppers were the Farm to Preschool featured food last month (above).

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Eating more fruits and veggies is a piece of cake with a few tips and tricks. The Spend Smart Eat Smart blog from ISU Extension has new tip sheets to help you store, clean and prepare your favorite fruits and vegetables. How much produce can you buy for $8.00 or $10.00? Click here for bundle ideas. Remember, fruit and vegetable prices vary with the season. Buy produce when it is in season for the best flavor and lowest price.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Safari Season is just about to begin in Northeast Iowa! Starting Memorial Day weekend, families and individuals will be able to participate in these fun county-wide adventure hunts of natural, historical, cultural and educational treasures!
Driftless Safari (Winneshiek)
Turkey River Safari (Clayton and Fayette)
Allamakee Driftless Safari
SAFARI into the Land of the Headwaters (Howard)

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

As her year as a FFI FEEST intern comes to a close, Sierra Gonzalez was quick to encourage others to become active in FEEST. She said, “I was asked to join by Molly (Brackett) and I have learned so much about cooking techniques and unique foods. It has really boosted my self esteem, too. I recommend the program for these reasons and many others.” As an intern, Sierra was responsible for recruiting particicpants and organizing the events. Each meal included a main dish, vegetable and a fruit. Along with learning creative cooking, knife skills and sanitation are also a big part of the program.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

The School Wellness Action Plan is a tool, to help your district determine the short-term goals for the upcoming year in order to achieve your long-term vision of school wellness. If you don’t have a long term vision, START here….What does a “healthy school” look like? Have access to? Feel like? How do you market it to parents/community? How does it impact students? staff? families? the greater community?

 

Whether you are hiring a full time wellness coordinator, part-time coordinator, or utilizing a AmeriCorps/FoodCorps member, the action plan is the direction, plan of work, and achievable benchmarks for the 2015/16 school year. It helps determine school priorities. The more you make your goals measurable, concrete and realistic, the more success you will see within your school. Contact your Resource Contact or FFI staff member for assistance and ideas.

 

Help Wanted. Luther College is currently accepting applications for AmeriCorps service members for the 2015/16 school year. Where will your year of service be?

 

PARTNER NEWS

CONGRATULATIONS
Ann Mansfield, project coordinator for NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, has been awarded a Walking College Fellowship from America Walks, a national advocacy organization that promotes walking and walkable communities. The Fellowship will enable Ann and 24 other advocates from around the country to participate in a five-month training program designed to strengthen local efforts to make communities more walkable and livable.

Oelwein elementary guidance counselor Barb Schmitz received the Champions Award at the recent Iowa After-School Conference. This award recognizes individuals who have been advocates for out-of-school time. The award winners were chosen through a nomination process that was available statewide and open to everyone. Nominations were then reviewed by advocates and stakeholders. Schmitz is a member of the FFI Leadership Council.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

You don’t have to hit the gym to get physical exercise! Guess how many calories gardening burns? Check out the answer in this eXtension.org article.

Weekly Bits – May 8

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

May is [Local] Beef Month. The smell of grilled burgers infiltrated the halls of Waukon Jr. and Sr. High on Thursday as the Allamakee Cattlemen were outside the front door grilling burgers for lunch. The beef was from a cow born and raised in Allamakee County, and processed at a locker three blocks away. The processing was covered by grant funds awarded to the Iowa Food Hub from USDA Farm to School and Allamakee County Community Foundation. Local burgers are on the menu at Postville and Decorah next week!

 

Food hubs are getting press. Since institutions don’t have time to buy food from a dozen or more separate farms with different invoice systems and delivery dates, food hubs simplify matters by becoming a single, go-to source. Here’s a great example out of Minnesota. Elsewhere, managers from two food hubs were featured Iowa Public Radio this week. The discussion focused on how demand for local food currently exceeds supply and the role that food hubs can serve.
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

One of March’s nutritional activities in Early Head Start was parents making banana, honey and wheat muffins with their children. During the home visit, the children learned that taking turns while pouring/mixing all the ingredients can be fun. One family had an infant less than 12 months of age. When the home visitor told the parents that they would have to leave out the honey because of the infant’s age, the mother wanted to know why.
ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Palmer Lutheran Health Services was recently recognized at the state level for their Safe Routes to School efforts in Fayette County.
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Ashley Turk thinks it’s amazing to watch students’ curiosity grow. She has seen reluctant students turn into adventurous tasters. She has witnessed older students take ownership and help plan future recipes. Most importantly, she has been humbled by the power of food to bring students together. As soon as she walks in the door, she is greeted by a chorus of questions. “ASHLEY!” “WHAT ARE WE MAKING TODAY?” “My friend wants to do cooking club, can he join?” “Hey, when are we making my recipe?”
SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

School wellness teams are crafting their Action Plans for the 2015/16 school year. It is important to remember that this is not the final year of the AmeriCorps/FoodCorps program. FFI will continue to apply for these grants as long as schools remain interested and supportive of members. We have been preparing for the end of W. K. Kellogg funding for several years, and as such, we have been asking communities and schools to start sharing the financial commitments of members. The core partners involved in FFI will continue within the mission of their organizations to support the training and supervision of members and assume the cost of doing this work.

Help Wanted. Luther College is currently accepting applications for AmeriCorps service members for the 2015/16 school year. Where will your year of service be?
PARTNER NEWS

The Huffington Post recently asked, “Where are all the school gardens?” The case for garden-based learning in schools seems simple, even obvious, at first: What harm could there be in encouraging young children to connect with nature and learn more about the ecology around them, including where the food they eat comes from? But given the ever-growing demands on teachers’ time and the poor financial health many of the nation’s school districts are in, the obstacles facing the school garden movement in the U.S. are clear.

In NE Iowa, we are very thankful for the support for the 23 school gardens across the region. Our partners have proven that these obstacles can be overcome!
TIP OF THE WEEK:

Once the weather gets warmer we use our grill about every day.  Cleaning it before you start to heavily use it is always a good idea.  Here are some cleaning tips that will keep your grill working well for years to come.

 

Weekly Bits – May 1

Planting a School Orchard. Central schools in Elkader recently received a Trees For Kids Grant through the Iowa DNR. This grant allowed the students to plant a mini orchard on their playground. On Earth Day, they planted apples, plums, cherry, pear, magnolia and a maple tree.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Decorah’s West Side Transitional Kindergarten class had a ‘Shake It Off’ dance party while shaking the ingredients to make honey butter.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

I was excited to have breakfast with Bob Gorman, USDA Regional Farm to School rep at Postville on Thursday. Locally-sourced eggs, yogurt, strawberries and school-made granola were on the menu. Later, I took Bob to the Iowa Food Hub and Country View Dairy where we had great conversations with community partners on using local foods in schools and how we are using USDA funds to make more products like frozen and cubed vegetables available. Now, Bob knows how much we love Farm to School. Come back soon!

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Students at St. Joseph Community School participated in an all-school activity called “Tarp War.” It involved relay races where students worked as a team to pull their teammate on the tarp the quickest. Each grade level went against each other and there were four teams for each race and they did three races. This was a great team building activity and a great workout, especially for the kids who had to pull their teammates.
 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

The inaugural “Tough Color 5K” Fun  Run is scheduled for 9 am, Saturday, May 2 at the Allamakee County Fairgrounds in Waukon.  The color fun run is an Allamakee County 4-H County Council leadership project created by Waukon High School junior Emily Hammel, with the proceeds from the event benefiting the Waukon High School Cross Country Team, the local Food and Fitness Initiative and other local organizations.  Pre-registration is required and can be done by emailing toughcolorwaukon@hotmail.com.  Fee is $30 for ages 14 and older and $20 for ages 4-13 and includes a t-shirt.

 

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

Congratulations to the Cora B. Darling Elementary School in Postville AND John Cline Elementary in Decorah on being awarded the Bronze HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchroom Award!  This is a very prestigious award of nutrition and physical activity excellence. The school, staff, students, and community are to be commended on the great work they have done to achieve this award.  These schools join 76 other Iowa schools to accomplish this goal.  Their school will appear on the USDA website.

 

PARTNER NEWS

Iowa State University Extension and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is sponsoring a Farmers Market Food Safety online training course. If you’re an Iowa Farmers Market Manager or vendor, register now.

Congratulations to Michael Tupper! Michael, an ISU freshman from New Hampton, is the new Iowa FFA President. While in high school, Michael was also active in 4-H and Food & Fitness, and his mother, Joanne, is on the FFI Regional Council “I’m beyond excited,” Tupper said. “It has always been a dream of mine to serve FFA in this capacity.”

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

It’s no surprise that healthy eating includes fruits and vegetables. In fact, MyPlate recommendations say we should make half of our plate fruits and veggies at each meal. For adults, that is about 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. For children, 1 ½ cup of fruit and 1 ½ cup of veggies will meet their daily needs. As you plan your week’s meals, this can seem overwhelming particularly if you have a picky eater at your house. Here are some tips to make fruits and veggies a fun part of every meal.

 

 

Weekly Bits – April 24

Networking in Louisville! The NE Iowa team joined Food & Fitness grantees from across the country in Louisville, KY this week at the historic Brown Hotel. There was much discussion on equity and sustainability of the work.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Did you hear the BUZZ!!! Scott Breitbach, a local honey producer from the New Hampton area recently visited The Learning Center Preschool (TLC) in New Hampton to talk about bees and how he gets the honey from them.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Five farms attended a work session last week to learn about Group GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and how to implement the program on their farm. The Iowa Food Hub is the group administrator. Many of the farms in this first wave are professionals — they have been previously certified by the USDA. Using a systems approach to food safety, Group GAP develops a culture of food safety that will promote wide adoption of food safety standards.

 
ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

National Bike to Work Week (May 11-15) is an annual event that promotes the bicycle as an option for commuting to work. Iowans are encouraged to try bicycle commuting as a healthy and safe alternative to driving. You don’t have to limit your enthusiasm to just one day in May. The Des Moines Bicycle Collective and the Iowa Bike Month committee have an entire month of activities planned for you.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

MFL’s youth team has been introducing Taste Test Tuesday this spring. This week, kale chips were a hit! Franci, a 4th grade student was impressed… “I like that it is a chip, but still healthy for you.”

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

Ashley Christenson and Katie Blocker recently traveled to ISU to talk to a group of junior and senior students about careers in the area of Public Health, especially with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative and potentially spark an interest for one or a few of them to apply to be a Resource Contact. Katie had a chance to briefly speak about the work she does and give the students a look into a “Day in the Life of an Resource Contact.” Her talk went like this…

PARTNER NEWS

Mushrooms in class. Students in Mr. Bohach’s Life Science class at Decorah High School are learning about a unique food crop – shiitake mushrooms! This time lapse video shows how quickly the mushrooms can grow (2.5 days). The students are also learning about marketing their crop as part of the class.

Avian influenza. With recent confirmations of avian influenza in the state, consumers should be assured that eggs and poultry are still safe to eat. “Consumers should feel safe to eat properly cooked and prepared meat and eggs from poultry,” said Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety.

TIP OF THE WEEK:

It is a sure sign of spring when the rhubarb patch starts to grow!  Rhubarb leaf stalks are used in everything from pies, tarts, sauces, jams, jellies, puddings and even punch.  Although it is categorized as a vegetable, most people think of it as a fruit since it is highly acidic and has a tart flavor. According to our Iowa State University Extension Horticulturists if you are looking to start your own rhubarb patch spring is the best time to do it.

Weekly Bits – April 17

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Twenty-one youth from Allamakee, Clayton and Winneshiek counties competed in the NE Iowa 4-H Cook This! Challenge last weekend. The teams were tested on their cooking skills, like guacamole preparation (above), nutrition knowledge, and communication skills. Congratulations to the teams from Waukon, Monona and Clayton Ridge!

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

There will be a new farmers market coupon at the Winneshiek Farmers Market this year. The First Lutheran Food Pantry received a grant from the Winneshiek County Community Foundation to give coupons to their clients for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. The grant was seed money for the “Farmers Market Fund” at the food pantry. Community members and organizations are invited to contribute to the fund.

A similar coupon program is offered at the Waukon, Riceville and New Hampton farmers markets. Donations for those program are accepted through the Iowa Food Hub, a 501c3 partner.
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Cooking as a family provides teachable moments. Kids, especially little ones, want to feel like they are contributing to the family.
ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

The Healthiest State Blog recently featured NE Iowa FFI Safe Routes to School program as a success story for healthy communities.
SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

When Goats go to School. During library time in March, Howard-Winneshiek Community School District students read the story “The Billy Goats Gruff.” Meanwhile, some of the older kids have even practiced constructing different types of bridge designs in class to coincide with the storyline. Then, the Des Moines Metro Opera’s Iowa Tour Troupe also visited Howard-Winn to present their operatic version of the classic children’s story. Teacher Todd Knobloch decided to bring in a couple of his own real-life goats so the kids could actually see what they look like. “When the kids first started [reading] ‘The Billy Goats Gruff’ some of them had never even heard of the story before,” he said, noting that this is the goats’ first adventure away from the farm. Science + Reading + Agriculture + Arts = FUN!
TIP OF THE WEEK:

The weather is starting to warm up, it’s time to start planning what you are planting in your garden and time to get your canners ready to preserve your garden bounty!  Making sure that your canning equipment is in proper working order is required for safe, high quality home canning.

Weekly Bits – April 10

Seeing is Believing. Waukon High School ag teacher Jessica O’Connor wanted to take students on a field trip to a production greenhouse. A perfect destination was found: Rolling Hills in West Union, owned by Eric & Fern Unruh. After Rolling Hills, they toured the Iowa Food Hub, where they get many of the local foods for their school lunch program. They finished at Unionland Market–a great retail store that sells many local products, from baked goods to dairy. Students saw different parts of our local food system, from producer to distributor to retailer. More.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Thanks to the Winneshiek ag lenders for hosting me at their meeting this month. We talked about the food system, opportunities for beginning farmers and the aging farming population in Iowa. Local food production can help bring on the next generation of farmers.

 

Help Needed. Farmers and businesses interested in contributing to the local food economic survey should act before April 24.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

We all want our children to succeed in school and get off to a great start. It not just knowing their numbers and letters, but also getting a great start to their health. We know a healthier child is a better learner.

Help Wanted. Enjoy young children and looking for a summer job? Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Early Childhood is looking for a summer assistant.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

National Bike/Walk to School Day is Wednesday, May 6! Iowa schools that host a celebration event on any day during the month of May can request freebies from the Iowa Bicycle Coalition! Contact Ashley at achristensen@uerpc.org to learn more!

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Turkey Valley has a new lunch option for Jr. and Sr. High students, thanks to their peers.  At the beginning of the year, students voiced that they would like to have a second option for school lunch. Their idea was to incorporate a salad bar into their school lunch. Katie, the Resource Contact, facilitated meetings between administration and food service, but it was really the kids who voiced their need and desire to have this option. After several months of collaboration, cooperation and negotiation the students now have a salad bar. It is their hope that by having a salad bar their peers will make healthier choices and develop the ability to make healthier choices whenever possible.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

Congratulations to the Decorah Community School District on being named an official Iowa Farm to School Chapter! Decorah joins Oelwein and Allamakee districts in this honor.

 

PARTNER NEWS

Mark Your Calendars!
April, Beginning Gardener Classes, Allamakee County.  Allamakee libraries and Master Gardeners are teaming up to offer gardening classes in April.  Click here for the dates.

May 1-2, Fayette County Greenhouse Tour. This self guided tour, features Cannon’s Greenhouse, Westgate, Fox Produce, Randalia, the Corner Market and Oelwein FFA, Oelwein, and K&K Gardens, Hawkeye. News releases, including maps, door prizes, punch cards, and more information will be printed in local newspapers soon.

May 2, Farmers Market Season Starts!  First Day of Winneshiek Farmers Market, 8-11 am. http://www.winneshiekfarmersmarket.com/

June 20, Breakfast on the Farm, NE Iowa Dairy Foundation Center, NICC, Calmar, 8:30-noon. http://iowadairycenter.com/breakfast_on_the_farm.php

June 21, 2nd Annual Crawford County Farm Crawl, 1-5pm. This is a great opportunity to explore some great farms and local businesses in Crawford County.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

In Iowa, onions are a popular garden product, but they do require some special conditions and care to get optimal results. Here are some tips from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists on onion cultivar varieties and the proper way to plant them.

 

Weekly Bits – April 3

Greenhouse Explorers. Decorah 1st grade students went on an adventure…all the way across the street to the greenhouse at the high school. Students were divided into four groups and got to participate in four stations: filling flats and writing tags, planting/watering seeds, doing taste testing with spinach and lettuce, and looking at compost and worms.

 

Two more meetings. Will you join us?
The Rural Vitality Community Forums were hosted in West Union and New Hampton this week. With NE Iowa Food and Fitness as a partner, participants heard about school wellness efforts, how the Iowa Food Hub is developing markets for new farmers and businesses, and how the Winneshiek Energy District has its sights on energy independence. There is still a chance to be part of the discussion!  RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/ffi52101.
FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

We met with food service directors from Allamakee, Clayton Ridge, Decorah, Valley, North Fayette, Turkey Valley, S. Winn, Howard-Winneshiek, and Postville this week. After a tour of the Iowa Food Hub, the group talked about the NE Iowa Farm to School Cycle Menu, new tools for tracking local purchases and bidding, and Farm to School ideas for next year.

 

I also gave a tour of the food hub to the area economic development professionals as part of their monthly NE Iowa Business Network meeting in West Union this week.

 
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Enjoy young children and looking for a summer job? Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Early Childhood is looking for a summer assistant.

 
ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition is again promoting their Annual Punch Card Contest for 2015. The contest is a 10-day walk/bike to school contest taking place April 20-May 1 to build excitement for daily physical activity. Great prizes will be awarded to winners. To learn more, contact Alana with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition (alana@iowabicyclecoalition.org) or visit their website.

 
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Jessica O’Connor says that only about 10 percent of the students entering her horticulture class at Waukon High School have experience growing food or flowers. However, by the time they are done with her class, they not only know how to grow their own food, but they also have “a greater respect for the work it takes to grow the food they eat every day.

 
SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

Schools are buzzing with activity!
–Central students recently voted on which squash recipe was their favorite.
–Turkey Valley and St. Joe’s are experiencing March Madness.
–N. Fayette students are celebrating “White Milk Wednesdays
–A new club is cooking up yummy things in Elkader.

 
PARTNER NEWS

Food and Farming Honors. We would like to congratulate some of our farmer-partners who were recently recognized by their peers. The Tom Weighner family, one of the dairy farms of WW Homestead Dairy received the Distinguished Dairy Farm Family Award at the Allamakee County Dairy Banquet. The Country View Dairy team received the Dairy Best Award for their dairy promotion efforts at the Fayette County Dairy Banquet.

 

More congratulations are in order for some of our meat locker partners. Several walked away with awards at the annual Iowa Meat Processor Association Cured Meat Competition. NE Iowa was well represented with awards going to Polashek’s Locker in Protivin, County Line Locker in Riceville, Jet’s Meats in Waukon, Edgewood Locker and Elma Locker. Great job!

 

Local Food Theater. Farmers, friends of farmers, lovers of Iowa, foodies and theatre-goers will not want to miss a show premiering at Luther College on April 11 as part of the Center Stage Series. “All Recipes are Home” is an original play written by Sean Lewis and commissioned by Hancher Theatre at the University of Iowa, Grinnell College and Luther College. Northeast Iowa farms inspired Lewis when he was researching this play.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

Asparagus is a spring-time favorite. Learn what it takes to have your very own asparagus patch and enjoy this favorite spring vegetable for years.

 

COMMUNITIES SUPPORTING COMMUNITY WORK:

NE Iowa Food and Fitness is participating in 2015 Great Give Day. The 24-hour online fundraising day is an opportunity to celebrate and support local nonprofits while helping them to attract new donors and build online fundraising capabilities for long-term success.

 

To give, visit www.GreatGiveDay.org on Tuesday, May 5 and make a donation of $10 or more anytime between midnight and 11:59 p.m. Gifts at designated time are eligible for matching incentives. All Great Give Day donations must be made online by debit or credit card at www.GreatGiveDay.org.

 

 

Weekly Bits – March 27

Will you join us?
The Rural Vitality Community Forums kicked off this week in Waukon and Oelwein. With NE Iowa Food and Fitness as a partner, participants heard about school wellness efforts, how the Iowa Food Hub is developing markets for new farmers and businesses, and how the Winneshiek Energy District has its sights on energy independence. Community members contributed ideas for future cultivation including community energy initiatives, food waste and composting and capturing wealth through endowments. There is still a chance to be part of the discussion!  RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/ffi52101.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Area community foundations have invested in the regional food system.  The Winneshiek County Community Foundation is funding a farmers market coupon program for clients of the First Lutheran Food Pantry.  The Fayette County Community Foundation is funding a project to increase access of local food to childcare centers. The Allamakee County Community Foundation awarded funds to the Iowa Food Hub to provide local beef to the Postville and Allamakee schools. We love community investment! Thank you to those boards for their support!
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

It is NOT a toy! A recent study from Kent State University reported the people who are glued to their cell phones may have lost the ability to entertain themselves.
ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Spring Walking School Buses are beginning to ‘spring’ up around the region! A big high five to our veteran routes- Clermont, Cresco, Decorah, Elgin, Oelwein, Riceville, Waterville, Waukon and West Union! A warm welcome to our NEW ROUTES– Elkader, Maynard and New Hampton!
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Ashley Christensen and I attended a wellness day for Wapsie Valley students this week and exposed them to the fun of the FFI Bike Blender. The students and staff were eager participants and asked great questions! We hope their school continues to develop a healthy school environment.
SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

FFI is seeking interested individuals to fill the FoodCorps/Americorps service member positions, based in schools around northeast Iowa, for the upcoming 2015-2016 service year. The term begins September 1 and lasts one year. Service members increase access to healthy foods for low-income families, support local economies by helping to build a robust food system, share knowledge of healthy foods, and get kids in the garden. If you are interested in serving next year as a part of FFI, please apply directly at www.foodcorps.org by March 31 or contact Emily Neal, School Outreach, at nealem01@luther.edu or (563) 568-1456 for more information.

USDA Farm to School grants are available. Four different kinds of grants are available to help schools expand F2S programming and infrastructure. Planning grants are for schools or school districts just getting started on farm to school activities. Implementation grants are available for schools or school districts seeking to augment or expand existing farm to school efforts. Support service grants are intended for non-profit entities, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers to evolve farm to school initiatives. If any schools are interested in applying, contact Emily or Teresa.

 

PARTNER NEWS

Local food at colleges. Luther College hosted a meeting for other colleges this week with a focus on using local foods. Several schools shared their experiences with procurment, menuing, marketing and preparation. The Luther farm and main kitchen hosted tours for the group which included staff from Beloit College, Carleton College, Central College, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Coe College, Cornell College, Gustavus Adolphus, Northland College, St. Olaf, Universitiy of Dubuque and University of Northern Iowa.

 

School Grant Earmarked for FFI Support. The North Winneshiek School Board recently received $2,500 from the Monsanto Fund, “America’s Farmers Grow Communities.” Monsanto selects a farmer as the winner of the $2,500 and then they selected the non-profit organization that will receive the donation. Randy and Doris Patterson, who were selected by Monsanto, are North Winn alumni. North Winneshiek Superintendent Tim Dugger says $2,000 of the Monsanto donation will be used to help continue the North Winn appearances of a representative of the Food & Fitness Initiative. The program stresses good food choices and the values of exercise and activity.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

On the blog Mealtime Hostage, Skye, the mom of a selective eater, tells amazing stories about her son’s food journey. In one post, her son responded with “I’m not ready” after being asked if he wanted a food. Not only was this an insightful response, it reminds us what’s really going on when young children say they don’t like something. Basically kids are saying “this food looks too challenging to eat.” It’s kind of like if you were served a meal of fried insects . Would you want to dig in or get comfortable with the idea of it first?  So if a child isn’t ready to eat a food, the question becomes: can parents help the child become ready?

 

Weekly Bits – March 20

Why school lunch is so important
AmeriCorps member Megan shared some observations this week about some of the cold lunches at her schools. She often sees lunches without any fruit or vegetables. She offered praise to her school food service because every day, food service creates well-balanced meals full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These lunches act as the model for how society should be eating and promote eating healthy habits among kids.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Last Friday, I learned more about the Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom efforts at a training hosted by the Iowa Ag Literacy Foundation for AITC volunteers. I had the opportunity to share the FFI Farm to School efforts across the region and had a great discussion of how both programs align around kids, food and agriculture.

 
EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

Why do cows wear bells? Because their horns don’t work – the joke was on me this last month with what preschool children learned about beef.
ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

These days, we’re spending more time at work and sitting in front of a screen than ever before. We’re becoming less active, which can increase our risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases. Take the first step to a healthier life by taking part in the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day on April 1! On this day, Americans are encouraged to lace up their sneakers and take 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk. More.

 
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

This year, the Elgin Library’s after-school program asked Laura Leichty and Paige Wettach if they could do a monthly nutrition education during their time on Wednesday afternoons. They gladly accepted the challenge of wrangling together 30-45 students aged anywhere from 4-10 years old. They’ve covered MyPlate basics and worked through the different food groups.  They’ve been able to try a variety of foods and snacks with the kids that they might not get to try otherwise. They even made their own butter!

 
SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

There was a leprechaun spotted in northeast Iowa schools this week. She was seen offering samples of fresh green beans at West Union Elementary. She was also spotted at Valley and Decorah offering samples of green smoothies.  What a fun way to celebrate healthy foods!

 
PARTNER NEWS

Local food in healthcare. Luther College hosted a meeting for local hospitals and care centers this week. Pam Oldham from Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids shared their experiences using local food. All of the attendees were interested future networking opportunities. Participants walked away with ideas for improving communication, working with staff, setting goals and menu planning.

 

Join the Conversation! What are the challenges facing rural communities in Northeast Iowa? How can communities proactively address these challenges to create thriving, resilient communities?   These questions and more will shape community forums taking place in NE Iowa this month. The forums are open to the public. A light meal will be available. Reservations are not required but appreciated for planning, http://tinyurl.com/ffi52101.

Next Week:
Tuesday, March 24, 5:30-7:00 pm @ Waukon Wellness Center, 1220 3rd Ave. NW
Thursday, March 26, 5:30-7:00 pm @ Oelwein Middle School Library, 12th Ave. SE
Click here for more details and dates for West Union, New Hampton, Cresco and Marquette.

 
TIP OF THE WEEK:

It is time for spring cleaning. Don’t forget about your refrigerator. Having a clean refrigerator prevents food waste because you can easily see what you have on hand and what needs to be eaten up soon. Having a clean refrigerator also lowers your risk of food-borne illness because foods are more likely to stay at the appropriate temperature and less likely to spoil. Here is a simple checklist to follow for cleaning your refrigerator.

 

 

Weekly Bits – March 13

It’s NATIONAL AMERICORPS WEEK! 
In communities across the country, AmeriCorps service members are working hard to make a powerful impact on critical issues facing our nation every day. As a Northeast Iowa resident, take a look around and you’re sure to find AmeriCorps members serving communities. The Food and Fitness Team relies on service members to “do” things in schools and communities, however small or grand, to encourage better choices and encompass our mission that “Together We Grow Healthy Kids”.  THANK YOU!

You know you’re a Food & Fitness AmeriCorps service member when…

  • You act as both a bus driver and the actual vehicle to get students to school.
  • You can make a bike blender smoothie with your eyes closed.
  • Wearing vegetable costumes and special outfits only to encourage taste tests doesn’t phase school staff anymore.
  • Seeds, seeds, SEEDS!
  • Songs and dances from nutrition lessons start to infiltrate your dreams.
  • Your clothes are crusted and/or stained from food prep.

There’s more!  Check out the full list.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

The first coordinated study of food hub development in Iowa shows that food hubs play a significant role in the state’s local and regional food economy. Thirteen food hubs purchased $4.5 million in food from more than 450 Iowa farmers and supported 58 jobs. Iowa Food Hub and FFI partners participated in this project.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

When was the last time you ate snow? Jim Greenman stated, “It is a strange time. We live in an age when our children may know far more about bizarre people we care nothing about, or a cartoon world, than the workings of their own backyard – that marvelous ecosystem teeming with life.”

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Students at St. Joseph’s in New Hampton recently learned how to use snowshoes. They quickly put their new skills to use and climbed a snow mountain!

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Congratulations to the MFL MarMac middle school and Central high school FFI teams on their recent completion of 4-H FEEST training.  The students on the Decorah and Postville FEEST teams led the orientation. Clayton Ridge students will be trained later this month.

 
SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

Food service from Oelwein, Decorah and Postville talked about how they make farm to school work at their schools at the Iowa Farm to School Networking Meeting in Oelwein last week.  Over 60 people from eastern Iowa attended the event hosted by NCAT and FoodCorps.

 

PARTNER NEWS

In an NPR report this week, they discuss why some schools serve local food and others don’t.  A new survey of schools and their local food purchases found during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, 36 percent of U.S. school lunchrooms were feeding kids food from local producers.  That number is closer to 75% in NE Iowa!

 

April 25-26 will have the nine wineries on The Iowa Wine Trail pairing food with the wines to bring out the best in both. These events are held twice a year the last weekend in April and first weekend in November. You can purchase your ticket at any of the nine wineries or online. Participating wineries are Brick Arch Winery in West Branch, Daly Creek Winery in Anamosa, Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette, Engelbrecht Family Winery in Fredericksburg, Park Farm Winery in Bankston, PromiseLand Winery in Guttenberg, Wide River Winery in Clinton and Winneshiek Wildberry Winery in Decorah.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

If you planned to start eating better at the start of 2015 but have gotten a bit off track, National Nutrition Month® is a good time to refocus. National Nutrition Month® is celebrated each March to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The theme for 2015 is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Here are 5 tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you do just that.