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.

Weekly Bits – March 6

header potatoesPHOTO OF THE WEEK  A pallet of local potatoes sits at the Iowa Food Hub. They were delivered to Postville schools for a baked potato bar at lunch.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

The Northeast Iowa Food & Farm Coalition (NIFF) is updating the Local Food Directory for Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties.  This directory is part of the Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign. The directory includes listings for producers of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs, baked goods, honey, herbs and syrups.  In addition, local farmers markets, stores and restaurants featuring local food are also listed. Any producers or businesses who would like to be listed in the 2015 directory should visit www.iowafreshfood.com for more information.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

If you have a preschooler in your life I am sure you are knowledgeable about Transformer toys. They are action figures that convert from one character to another or maybe into a vehicle. Usually, they are heroic characters that hope to better the world in some way.

 

The Food & Fitness Initiative is a transformer. The people who work and connect with FFI help spread the message of a healthier lifestyles whether they are parents, teachers, food service workers, park rangers, doctors, nurses, grocery stores owners, restaurateurs, farmers or volunteers. They are all the ‘transformers’ in our lives. Are you one?

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

It is never too early to start dreaming of spring! Registration for National Bike to School Day, set for May 6, is now open. Join thousands of children, parents, school officials and community members nationwide in bringing attention to safety needs, promoting physical activity, building a sense of neighborhood and inspiring school spirit.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

Modeled after the competition at the Iowa State Fair, the Cook This! Challenge is coming to northeast Iowa!  Teams of three youth will complete in three challenges: culinary, communications and knowledge. Gather your friends and create a team!  Open to any youth, grades 5-12, in northeast Iowa. At least one person needs to be a 4-H member.  For more information, contact Laura Liechty at 563-382-2949 or lliechty@iastate.edu.  To register, contact your county ISU Extension office. Click here to download a registration form.

 

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

If you live in Oelwein or are passing through town, stop into Fareway and check out the Pick a Better Snack signs in the produce section. Thank you to Fareway for working with Molly to get these signs in the store. We know that these signs will help both the students and parents identify and purchase each month’s Pick A Better Snack fruit or vegetable.

 

 

PARTNER NEWS

Seed Savers is hosting a Spring Garden School on March 21. Treat yourself to a full day of learning on garden design, soil health and home-scale seed starting and seed saving!  Bring your seeds and scionwood to share with others in anticipation of spring planting. Workshop price: $40.

Sharing Spaces Kitchen opened a retail outlet store Feb. 9 in its building at 730 N. State St. in Prairie du Chien. The shared-use kitchen is an extension of Opportunity Center, which provides work opportunities for people with disabilities.  The new retail outlet offers fresh-baked goods such as breads, sweet rolls and muffins as well as tortilla chips, pita chips, bagel chips, granola and soup mixes.  FFI and the Iowa Food Hub have been working with the kitchen to provide lightly processed items for schools including frozen strawberries, sweet potato fries and cubed squash.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

A bipartisan team in the House and Senate has introduced the Farm to School Act of 2015, a bill that will expand the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill is a win-win-win for farmers, students, and communities – it increases children’s access to fresh foods, supports family farmers, and helps to build strong local food economies. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) have taken the lead in introducing this important bill, and with support from more members of Congress this ‘marker bill’ will become part of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization package later this year.

YOU CAN HELP! Tell everyone in Congress that they should sign on to this bipartisan bill! The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has created online petitions to sign as a citizen supporter or organizational supporter.

Weekly Bits – Feb 27

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Iowans have a resource to help them connect to local food producers in their area. The directory, Iowa CSA Farms: 2015 Statewide List of CSA Farms and Organizers Serving Iowa, is available from ISU Extension and Outreach and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson

There is a new commercial out there that says, “Unplug from the daily routine and reconnect with nature. Get ideas for where to go and what to do, then grab the kids and start discovering.”  No matter where you live you can go to www.discovertheforest.org  and put in your zip code and find all the parks in your area to discover. This is great tool for young children to use to find where they can ‘Discover the Forest’. There are games, animal sounds and forest ecosystem information. Plan a family trip now. It is really fun!

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx challenges mayors to join the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets. Is your mayor up for the challenge?

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty

The Waukon FFI 4-H Team recently led activities for the whole district to kick off the Live Healthy Iowa School Challenge.  The high school news team covered the story. Watch the video.

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members

A School Garden is the Way to Grow! Here is a GREAT opportunity for you to help your school get funding for a Farm to School program. This year’s focus is from “Seed to Harvest.” Included in the garden supplies is a Growease Seed Starter Success Kit, to help assure that you plant seeds of success. Applications are due March 3.

Schools:  If you have considered starting a garden but aren’t sure how to tie the Iowa Core Standards into this project, join the Iowa Department of Education’s Team Nutrition for a webinar on Tuesday, March 17 at 3:30 pm.  This one-hour webinar is entitled “Engaging Your Entire School in the Garden,” and will show you how to make the school garden become part of the entire school learning process.  Garden sub-grants will also be offered.  To learn more information contact, Patti Delger at patti.delger@iowa.gov or follow this link to register.

Microfarm Manual. Here’s a how-to guide for building your own “microfarm” – a cart with lights that can travel from classroom to classroom, showing off seedlings (or micro-greens) as they grow!

 

PARTNER NEWS

Seeking Board Members.  Allamakee New Beginnings, the non-profit host of the Iowa Food Hub, has three board positions opening in April.  The board meets every month in person or by phone, and board seats are for 3 years.  ANB priorities include increasing access of local foods and consumer awareness; conducting food system research and education; facilitating community investment into food systems; providing technical assistance to farmers; and overseeing the operation of the Iowa Food Hub as a means to achieve those goals. Click here for a board application. Applications are due March 12.

Nick Fisher joined the Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College as the first-ever Food and Farm Fellow last week. In this position Nick will be responsible for the college production gardens, oversee the Cafeteria to Community Program and assist with a range of food education related tasks. After graduating from Luther, Nick spent 27 months serving for the Peace Corps in the Republic of Paraguay. As an agriculture volunteer, Nick taught sustainable agriculture practices to farmers, founded a cooperative, and worked to bring running water to his community.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:

Are you ready for some spring cleaning? Don’t forget the pantry.  Consider adding these items as year-round staples in your pantry: dry beans, sweet potatoes and low sugar cereal. They are versatile, nutrient-dense choices that can serve as the base for any meal or snack. Watch the segment from KCRG-TV.

 

FFI Spring Newsletter and Mini-Bits

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

 

In This Edition:

  • Learn how youth in the region are planning projects to affect wellness at their school or in their community.
  • Read how Oelwein students take “Story Walks”
  • Check out how Farm to Preschool has expanded to Early Head Start
  • See how Farm to School efforts are providing markets for farmers
  • Read how an AmeriCorps member is finding inspiration in the small successes

 

MINI-BITS
Your opinion is needed!
The Iowa Food Hub is asking for feedback on a new regional brand name  to be used on locally grown and processed foods, including produce, dairy, meat, and eggs, sold at retail stores. The Iowa Food Hub is evaluating new names for a couple of reasons.  The geography of the food hub now extends into SE Minnesota, SW Wisconsin, and NE Illinois in addition to eastern Iowa.  They want to ensure that the name on their products reinforces why you want to support local food!  Click here to participate in this short survey.

 

Farm to School Workshop, March 5. You are invited to attend a workshop on “Growing Farm to School in Iowa Through Partnerships” taking place in three locations across the state this spring.  Each meeting will highlight practical examples of farm to school in action and provide resources tailored to help Iowans connect more students to healthy, fresh food. Learn and network in Oelwein, Thursday, March 5.  The workshops are coordinated by the National Center for Appropriate Technology and FoodCorps Iowa, and offered in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Iowa Nutrition Network.

Weekly Bits – Feb 13

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
FFI and the Decorah Community School District were featured in a recent article in the Farm Bureau Spokesman about how Farm to School provides market opportunities for farmers.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
I have written about the importance of family meals and about real food verses processed food. I’ve had the pleasure of partnering on guiding grocery store tours and leading family cooking demonstrations. I still hear so many comments on how confusing food labels are.  Read the labels. Be skeptical. Don’t believe everything you hear or see. Just because a food is being marketed to kids doesn’t mean it’s good for kids.

ICYMI: Registered Dietician Laura Liechty also recently blogged about some tips on reading nutrition labels.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The Winneshiek County Conservation Board, coordinator of the Driftless Safari Program, was recently named the 2014 Outstanding Environmental Education Program by the Iowa Association of Naturalists and the Iowa Conservation Education Coalition. Congratulations to WCCB for receiving this very prestigious and very deserving honor!

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty
This week, Laura is in Washington DC participating in the National Youth Summit on Healthy Living. The summit is designed to help high school students develop the knowledge and skills to address today’s issues including nutrition education, physical fitness, wellness, and emotional well-being.  Laura hopes to bring lots of ideas back to NE Iowa!

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members
The school service members have visions of green gardens in their heads.  They have been working with David Cavagnaro and the Pepperfield Project to source seeds for school gardens.  Be looking for cherry tomatoes, lettuce, sunflowers, cucumbers, pole beans, peas, peppers, squash, herbs, (and more!) coming to a school garden near you. In 2015 we are excited to add seeds for Head Start gardens to the seed order!

 

PARTNER NEWS
Minneapolis Public Schools served 100 percent grass-fed ground beef from Grass Run Farms (Spring Grove, MN) in 24,000 lunches for pre-kindergarteners through 12th graders Thursday, February 5 as part of the ‘Minnesota Thursdays’ farm-to-school food initiative.  Corn from Sno-Pac in Caledonia, MN was also served.

 

The USDA Farm to School Program is preparing to conduct a second Farm to School Census to provide updated information about how many school districts are purchasing locally produced food for school meal programs or conducting other farm to school activities. USDA is planning to send out the Census survey in March and will ask that all school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program complete the questionnaire. USDA received a 75% response rate for the first Farm to School Census and your efforts will again be critical for achieving a similar response rate. Help us show that farm to school is growing with the Farm to School Census!

 

JUST FOR FUN
This extension educator from The Ohio State University believes we all have the capacity to make a huge impact on job creation, our environment, our health, and our future simply by taking a few, easy, deliberate actions within this emerging local foods sector. He outlines 4-6 action items that can, quite literally, make us local food superheroes.

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:
“Walking is going places. Over recent decades, walking has come to be widely viewed as a slow, tiresome, old-fashioned way to get around. But that’s changing now as Americans recognize that traveling by foot can be a health breakthrough, an economic catalyst, and the route to happiness…The evidence that millions of people are finally walking again is as solid as the ground beneath our feet.”  Read on to learn why walking is being called “America’s untrendiest trend” and why change-makers are calling for the creation of more walkable communities to improve the well-being of all.

 

Be The Change
Instead of hopping into a car or onto public transportation, experiment with giving yourself enough time to walk to a destination.

 

 

Weekly Bits – Feb 6

header green smoothiesA MONTH OF SMOOTHIES
What snack is always a crowd-pleaser with students and never fails to get rave reviews? Pizza? Nope! Cupcakes? Not quite! Ice cream? Getting closer! I’ll give you a hint. It involves electricity, a little imagination, and the ability to be a great taster. Stumped? I’ll tell you – swamp smoothiesFind out how they got their name. It seems like everyone was in the mood for smoothies this month.  Central Preschool made strawberry-banana smoothies.  The Postville smoothies featured mango and local yogurt and milk.

 

FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
The Iowa Food Hub will benefit from two research grants recently awarded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  IFH received a grant to work with non-traditional retailers to increase access of local food. In another grant,  ISU researchers with College of Engineering will be working with food hubs, including IFH, to apply supply chain management and food safety principles to their operations.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
Where does milk come from? Some children at Rainbow Land Child Care Center may say the NICC Dairy Center in Calmar.  More.

 

ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Paige and Ashley recently spent a Saturday attending the annual Safe Routes to School Meeting in Des Moines. Ashley gave a  presentation about all of the progressive work we’re doing in NE Iowa, and Paige was invited to speak about what the North Fayette Valley School District has accomplished with their Safe Routes to School efforts. NFV has tremendous parent and community support with their active living activities, and the volunteers are the driving (or walking) force behind our success.

 

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty
The entire Allamakee School District convened this week for the annual Live Healthy Iowa Kickoff Event. The high school 4-H Food & Fitness team organized a fun assembly engaging students and staff in activities to get them all pumped for the health and wellness challenge which promotes consumption of fruits and vegetables, drinking water, and getting plenty of physical activity in every day!

 

SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members
Sitting still for a whole school day can be tough on kids. But short bursts of activity in the classroom can really help.  Here’s are some videos and resources that get kids moving AND make learning and paying attention easier. Pass them on to teachers, principals, and PTAs. Do your kids get “Brain Breaks” in school?

 

TIP OF THE WEEK:
Locally-grown squash can still be found this time of year.  This vegetable is delicious and highly nutritious, but it can be intimidating because of its slick, hard skin.  ISU Extension dieticians have created a how-to video to help you feel confident preparing butternut squash. It shows a simple and safe way to prepare the squash.  Be sure to check out the Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada recipe in the 2015 Health and Homemade Calendar available for free at your county ISU Extension office.