Weekly FFI Bits – July 25

header chickens






Summer in Iowa means youth are having livestock, cooking and gardening projects judged at county fairs.  Chickasaw youth (above) line-up their production chickens to be evaluated.  In Allamakee County, the judge goes to the youth’s home to see their vegetable gardens.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
Kate Lower wraps up her internship with FFI this week and reflects on how the experience has solidified aspirations for her future.  “My love for Food and Fitness has continued to grow, and I am certain that I will be forever connected and attached to it.”


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
RAGBRAI, the annual week-long bike ride across Iowa, is wheeling through NE Iowa RIGHT THIS MINUTE! The route travels through Fayette County today and Clayton County tomorrow. What better time than now, as the 10,000+ RAGBRAI riders pedal through our breathtaking landscape, for a quick bike safety refresher.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Allamakee New Beginnings (ANB) has established three new funds to increase access of locally-grown and processed foods in northeast Iowa. ANB is the non-profit sponsor of the Iowa Food Hub (IFH).  IFH unites the mission and vision of its partners, including NE Iowa FFI, by buying food from local farmers, and selling it and delivering it to the places where most people get their food, like school food service and grocery stores.  The funds were created to facilitate community investment in the regional food system.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal, Food Corps, AmeriCorps
Edible Earth campers enjoyed a week-long fiesta of learning about local healthy food and cooking! Campers ages 2nd – 5th grade explored the local food system and enjoyed it’s bounty with the FoodCorps and AmeriCorps members from FFI.


Iowa Farm to School has joined Facebook. Keep up with the latest Farm to School initiatives and opportunities, and see the amazing things happening around the state. Look for regular features such like Garden Tips, Fun Fact Friday, photos showcasing IOWA, latest information on Farm to School initiatives, opportunities and contests.


The Leopold Center has been working on four new videos about the importance of local food – for Iowa communities, farmers, young people and our landscape. The series is called “Why Local? Why Now?”  It’s a look at some of the reasons behind the many investments that are being made to strengthen regional and local food systems in our state.


Country View Dairy was featured on Iowa Public Radio this week.  CVD is the state’s only on farm yogurt shop.  Dave and Carolee Rapson have been milking about 150 Holsteins since 2002 when they moved to Hawkeye from Michigan.  In 2009, when the prices they were paid for milk hit all time lows and feed prices tripled, they knew they needed to diversify to stay in business.  After much research, the opted for yogurt. they started making it in 2011 and have expanded from 15 stores in Iowa to 200 retail locations in seven states.


TIP OF THE WEEK:  Fast food is expensive and most options are not as healthy as homemade meals. A recent ISU dietetics graduate is learning there is a “life” aspect that can’t be ignored. She, like most, values her time, health and money.  So she asked – is take-out lunch really more expensive, less nutritious and quicker than a homemade version? The Spend Smart Eat Smart Team sent her on a mission and here is what she learned about making tasty burritos at home.





Weekly FFI Bits – July 11

Families and kids are welcome to this school garden in New Hampton (above) — but Peter Cottontail is NOT!  St. Joseph school received a grant from Theisen’s to install fencing around the raised beds at their school to limit the four-legged visitors, and it looks great!  More pics on Facebook.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
Speaking of garden pests–a deer has been visiting the Sunflower Daycare Garden in Decorah and leaving evidence behind.  Read how intern Kate Lower has been dealing with this challenge.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
UERPC recently published the Northeast Iowa Safe Routes to School 2013-2014 Annual Report. This report highlights student travel mode to and from school, as determined by the SRTS Travel Tally- a one-time, three-day snapshot of student travel collected by schools on a voluntary basis each spring.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
We had very special guests in northeast Iowa this week.  John Fisk, director and Devona Sherwood, program officer at the Wallace Center spent two days with FFI partners to learn more about our food system and food hub work.  The Wallace Center is a technical assistance provider for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  A major part of the work of the Wallace Center’s National Good Food Network, the Food Hub Collaboration is working to ensure the success of existing and emerging food hubs in the United States. We are thankful for their time!


FFA students from Crestwood High School in Howard County are investing a portion of their chapter funds in a local meat processing plant where a return on profits will be used for scholarships after graduating. The students are taking great steps to invest in their future; they even had the opportunity to take part in getting new legislation passed in order for their plan to be approved.  Listen to the IPR recording here.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal, Food Corps, AmeriCorps
Last week, Postville’s summer school had more of an international flavor to it.  They made a typical Vietnamese dish, spring rolls, and American fruit kabobs. The kids had a great time chopping up carrots, cucumbers, basil and their garden’s own cilantro and rolling it up in rice paper. One young man was in charge of making our dipping sauce with soy sauce, brown rice vinegar and scallions.


The Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College is hosting an Institutional Food Buyers Workshop on Wednesday, July 30. The event will take place from 1-4 pm in Peace Dining Room, Dahl Centennial Union. The afternoon will be geared specifically towards colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes and K-12 schools within the region.  Please RSVP to Maren Stumme-Diers, Sustainable Foods Educator via the online RSVP Form at your earliest convenience, but no later than Friday, July 18.


Labor remains one of the key challenges for fruit and vegetable growers who want to scale up their operations to serve increasing consumer demand for local produce. A new manual from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture offers one possible solution: sharing machinery.


ISU Extension and Outreach in Clayton County is hosting a “Food Preservation 101” class on July 17 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Peace United Church, 301 N. Main St. in Elkader.  Participants will learn the basics of canning, freezing, and dehydrating food during the two-hour workshop.

TIP OF THE WEEK:  Thinking about a garden at your school, preschool or daycare?  Gardens provide a way for children to grow, harvest, prepare, and ultimately taste new fruits and vegetables. When appropriate precautions are taken, fruits and vegetables from school gardens can be served safely to students.  There are a number of things to consider when choosing a location for the garden.  This publication can help.

Weekly FFI Bits – July 3

Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad has been touring the state this June, networking with Iowa entrepreneurs and their role in economic development.  Last week, the governor visited Country View Dairy in Hawkeye and WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon.  Northeast Iowa folks’ support of the ‘grown local’ movement was a major incentive for both businesses to pursue their state-certified creamery and processing facilities.


The Iowa Food Hub based in Decorah was founded as “research hub” to find solutions to common challenges facing food hubs. (What’s a Food Hub, anyway? from Inspire(d)).  The first of a series of toolkits to share what’s been learned is now available from the Leopold Center: Developing a Worksite Food Box Program. A worksite food box program is similar to a CSA, except that food shares come to a workplace, such as a university or hospital. Toolkits on other topics, such as farm-to-school programs and cash flow management, are planned so stay tuned. Find the first toolkit here.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
Intern Kate Lower recently watched “The Weight of the Nation for Kids” and made some connections to her past experiences with being part of Food and Fitness while in high school.  She was reminded of all of the hard work involved with being a part of the program and was amazed by the young leaders doing everything in their power to bring about change in the health of our nation and in our schools.  Read more of her review.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Cresco is now home to a “fitness trail”! Outdoor exercise equipment was recently added along the Prairie Springs Recreational Trail in Cresco to increase opportunities for residents to get out and be active.  Here are more photos from the city’s Facebook page.


Meet Laura
Laura Liechty has joined ISU Extension and Outreach as the Regional Youth and Nutrition Coordinator.  She will be coordinating outreach activities for school-based 4-H Food and Fitness teams and youth-led FEEST events, and outreach to families about healthy eating and active living. Welcome, Laura!


The Youth Investment
4-H and FFA members are also part of the “local food system” and the benefits of a local food system are vividly demonstrated at our county fairs each year. At four county fairs in northeast Iowa, 4-H members sell their livestock projects at an auction at the end of the fair. Don’t miss your chance to fill your freezer with a side of beef, pork or lamb, and invest in a young person’s future.  Here is a post from last year that demonstrates the impact of these transactions.  Upcoming auctions: July 10 – Chickasaw; July 12 – Winneshiek; July 20 – Allamakee; August 4 – Clayton.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal, Food Corps, AmeriCorps
Ever wondered what our service members are busy with during the summer months? The answer for many of them: summer camps and gardening!


TIP OF THE WEEK:  There is a new report out by the Economic Research Service that said that eating more fruit is associated with healthier weight but that Americans who eat more vegetables may actually increase their calorie and sodium intake. How can that be? Vegetables are naturally low in calories and sodium. Read how your veggie recipes may be sabotaging your health goals.


Angie Tagtow, former FFI Regional Council member, has been appointed as Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) at the USDA.  Her position starts this month in Washington, DC.  Congratulations, Angie!






Summer 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 Summer 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 the bike racks overflowed at Wings Park in Oelwein this spring
  • See how preschool classrooms are engaging parents and changing family tables
  • Find out what was on one FEEST intern’s Christmas list
  • Learn how much local food was purchased by schools last year
  • Learn more about the definition of a Good Food System and how we are creating it in northeast Iowa
  • Join us as we recruit new AmeriCorps service members for the fall.   



Weekly FFI Bits – June 20

There are two family events set for this weekend designed to connect you to your food.  Join the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation for the 5th Annual Breakfast on the Farm, Saturday, June 21, 2014 from 8:30 am-noon at Iowa’s Dairy Center, Calmar, Iowa.  Eat a yummy breakfast and tour the nationally-recognized Dairy Center.  The kids will enjoy the chance to meet some calves, plus families can visit several educational exhibits, milk a cow and see the newly completed robotic milking units in action. Click here to see how important the dairy industry is to NE Iowa.


Driftless Wisconsin Farm Crawl, June 22, 1-5 pm.  Celebrate wonderful, small farms in Crawford County, Wisconsin. Visit and tour six locations where you can meet local producers and learn more about what our region has to offer. The Farm Crawl is a free event open to anyone wishing to participate.


The 2014 Local Food Directory is available!  We are always tickled to be the centerfold of the summer edition of Inspire(d).  Get your free copy today!  Also available at county ISU Extension offices or call Teresa at 563.794.0599.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Just because it is summer, doesn’t mean Farm to School takes a break.  Kids in Waukon and Postville are enjoying fresh strawberries this week as part of the summer feeding program at those sites.  AND…over 1200 pounds of strawberries will be frozen in the upcoming weeks for school lunches this fall.  Doesn’t that make you want to go back to school?


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
Is salt sneaking into your child’s diet? With increased incidence of childhood hypertension, here is why you need to be concerned about your child’s intake.

The groceries are purchased and the bags are packed.  The NE IA FEEST interns and advisor are finalizing their plans to present a workshop at the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference in Ames next week.  Four other FFI youth have received scholarships to attend.  Have Fun!


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
With County Fair season just around the corner, the Food and Fitness Bike Blender is gearing up for another successful County Fair Tour. Come check out our lean, green, human-powered blending machine at a fair near you!
Howard (Cresco)- June 27, 3-6:30 pm         Allamakee (Waukon)- July 18, 12-2 pm
Chickasaw (Nashua)- July 9, 3-5 pm           Clayton (National)- July 30, 3-5 pm
Winneshiek (Decorah)- July 10, 1-3 pm       Fayette (West Union)- July 31, 3-6:30 pm


TIP OF THE WEEK:  Grilling is a great way to enjoy local vegetables and meats.  Here are some food safety reminders as you fire up those grills!


The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI) in partnership with Luther College are accepting applications for the anticipated 2014-2015 AmeriCorps positions. AmeriCorps members may live within one of the following communities in the six-county region: Elkader, West Union, Oelwein and/or New Hampton.  More.


Interesting set of 40 maps that help explain aspects of food, farming and producing food in America. View the whole series here.

Check out this fun way to learn about farms — Bike the Barns Driftless, June 29.  53 miles in the rolling hills around Viroqua, WI.  Sponsored by Fair Share CSA Coalition, the route will feature food prepared by Rooted Spoon Culinary, and stops at Driftless Organics in Soldiers Grove, WI and Ridgeland Harvest in Viroqua, WI.



Weekly FFI Bits – June 13

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.  Upper Explorerland and ISU Extension are hoping to “plant” some ideas for other worksites by installing a Worksite Wellness Demonstration Garden at their Decorah location.  The wellness committee at UE (above) was responsible for planting the garden which will provide peas, carrots, greens, tomatoes and other veggies for employee use.  The garden box was constructed by Jeff Scott of Driftless Gardens using the same design as some of the schools.  The compost was delivered by Upper Iowa Organics.


Early Childhood
NE Iowa Food & Fitness is pleased to introduce our summer intern, Kate Lower a junior Luther College student from Volga, IA. Kate will be assisting Halesia Johnson with early childhood outreach.  Read more.

Youth Engagement
Morgan Heim has joined Allamakee County Extension as the County Youth Co-Coordinator.  She returns to the area with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Relations from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. The 4-H CYCs are an important resource to the school resource contacts and school-based FFI teams and coaches.

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Emily Neal, AmeriCorps and Food Corps
School gardens can be a hub for active learning. Students can head to the school garden to learn about plant science, look for migrating Monarch butterflies, write poetry inspired by nature, or check on the potato crop that they will donate to a community food bank.  Edutopia offers some tips on how to grow, and sustain, an engaging learning environment.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
From Riceville to Waterville and numerous towns in between, Walking School Buses are gaining speed in Northeast Iowa! Over 250 students and 50 adults participated in a Walking School Bus this school year. Bring the magic of a Walking School Bus to your neighborhood by contacting Ashley today at achristensen@uerpc.org.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
The next edition of Notes from the NE Iowa Food & Farm Coalition is available.  The NIFF Coalition includes stakeholders across the value chain working to create opportunities for existing and new farmers to engage in the local and regional food system.  Download this e-edition.

Local Foods Making Impact in NE Iowa – 2013 Data is In!
A new food hub, 15 new farms or food enterprises, 19 more jobs and $8.6 million in local food sales.  Those are all highlights from the 2013 Economic Impact Report from the NE Iowa Food & Farm Coalition.  Since 2006, the coalition and ISU Extension and Outreach have collected data on the economic impact of local foods in northeast Iowa.  Read the report.

New Venue for the West Union Farmers Market
Main Street West Union is excited to announce the addition of the West Union Farmers Market to the “Playin’ on the Plaza” summer concert series in downtown West Union.  The market and free concerts will be held on Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 pm in July and August.  They are currently looking for farmers and vendors to participate. Contact Robin Bostrom for more information, mainstreetwu@gmail.com or 563.422.8655.


The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI) in partnership with Luther College are accepting applications for the anticipated 2014-2015 AmeriCorps positions. AmeriCorps members may live within one of the following communities in the six-county region: Elkader, West Union, Oelwein and/or New Hampton.  More.


TIP OF THE WEEK: It’s the time of year for harvesting rhubarb!  The rhubarb stalk is used in tarts, pies, sauces, jams, jellies, puddings and punch. Although classed as a vegetable, rhubarb is used as a fruit because its high acidity gives a tart flavor. Learn more tips on how to prepare and preserve this Iowa favorite!


PARTNER NEWS -  Food System Voter Action Guide
The Iowa Food Systems Council’s Food Access & Health Work Group believes that future policy-makers and community leaders in Iowa who understand the importance of food to our state and local communities are critical to achieving a diverse and just food system that eliminates hunger, increases access to nutritious food, and improves the health of all Iowans.  This voter action guide outlines questions aimed to raise awareness and promote public discourse around the many pertinent issues affecting Iowa’s food system. Use the voter action guide to present food system issues at debates, forums, and town-hall meetings, to help you, the voter, to discover your candidate’s “recipe” for the future of food in Iowa.


Weekly FFI Bits – June 6

The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI) in partnership with Luther College are accepting applications for the anticipated 2014-2015 AmeriCorps positions. AmeriCorps members may live within one of the following communities in the six-county region: Elkader, West Union, Oelwein and/or New Hampton.  More.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Let the Safaris begin! Throughout the summer and fall months, families and individuals are invited to experience the natural, educational, cultural and historical treasures of Northeast Iowa through many county-wide adventure hunts called ‘Safaris’ at absolutely no cost!
Driftless Safari- Winneshiek County
Allamakee Driftless Safari- Allamakee County
Turkey River Recreational Corridor (TRRC) Safari- Clayton and Fayette Counties
Into the Land of the Head Waters Safari – Howard County (so new — no website yet!)


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
You probably know that you should eat healthier, cook healthier for your children and make healthier food choices for your entire family.  However, it can be a little overwhelming for some to admit they don’t know where to begin. Even one of our Food Corps service members admits she learned something on a recent grocery store tour.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Northeast Iowa schools celebrated May, Beef Month in a special way this year.  NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative partners navigated the complex farm-to-table chain of sourcing a local beef animal that ended up on the plates of local school children.


It is a pretty remarkable journey.  It started with a cow, who spent her life grazing the hills of Sattre.  She was processed by a local locker into a product that was delivered by the food hub, prepared and served by caring school cooks and fellow cattlemen, and celebrated by students, staff and parents on a beautiful late-spring day.


Students in the Waukon High School Horticulture class and Little Switzerland FFA members partnered with Bright Beginnings students to learn about flowers. Topics included parts of a flower, soil (making dirt cups for a snack), creating grass buddies, and planting seeds. The final step included planting the flowers in front of the school.


TIP OF THE WEEK: Do I need to pre-sterilize my jars before canning?  Even when you purchase brand and shiny new jars in a box covered in plastic wrap, those jars are still not in a sterile environment. Here are some tips to get your canning season started.


PARTNER NEWS -  Seeking Extension Council Members
Area Extension Councils soon will begin the process to fill seats on the council.  “The elected council is instrumental in fulfilling the land-grant mission and bringing research-based educational opportunities to the county. We invite those interested in extension and outreach programs, to be involved in the nomination process or consider running for council,” says Kraig Tweed, Regional Director in northeast Iowa.  The duties of a council member include hiring county staff, managing the county extension budget and helping select programming.  The NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative is a primary program for the region.  More.



Weekly FFI Bits – May 30

On July 1, 2014, the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School standards will go into effect. These standards apply to all foods and beverages sold to students during the school day in school vending machines, stores, snack carts and a la carte lines, and through fundraisers.  That means, by the time that your child goes back to school, you need to make sure you are doing your part of follow the standards. Get your creative juices flowing this summer!  Use these 10 ideas to get inspired and try healthy fundraising with your school community.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The Bike Rack Challenge results are in…drum roll please…
Most Creative Design:  Riceville with its train and railway bridge bike rack
Most School or Community Spirit:  Allamakee–Waukon Wellness Center bike rack
Best Use of Recycled Material:  Decorah with its state of Iowa cut-out bike rack
Best Craftsmanship:  Decorah
People’s Choice (via Facebook):  Decorah with 145 likes! All students involved will receive a new pair of welding gloves!
$100 Gift Certificate to Mississippi Welding Supply (randomly drawn):  Awarded to the Allamakee Industrial Tech Program!
The judges had a super difficult time picking the winners. Great work, students!


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
Thank you for being a Head Start teacher!  We appreciate your efforts and personal commitment to your students as well as implementing Farm to Preschool this school year.  What you do has a lasting positive impact on your students, their families and our communities! A BIG thank you from NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative!   We look forward to continuing the work next school year.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Spend an afternoon between Decorah and Waukon viewing specialized crop production equipment in action as well as a working small crop farm. The event will be held Saturday, June 7 at Kymar Acres from 1-5 PM at 2168 Winnmakee Rd. Waukon, IA 52172.  Checkout equipment including potato planting, cultivating, bed forming, harvesting equipment and more.


Youth in grades 5-12 are invited to compete in the fifth annual 4-H “Cook This!” culinary challenge. Participants will compete in a preliminary competition on Wednesday, June 18 in the College of Human Sciences on the Iowa State University campus. Top teams will advance to the Cook This finale to be held on Thursday, Aug. 7 at the Iowa State Fair.


The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI) in partnership with Luther College is currently seeking applications for 2014-2015 AmeriCorps positions.  At least four positions will be offered with the final number determined by June 30.  More.


By responding to an online survey administered this winter, Luther College students, staff and faculty played a role in shaping the composition of the edible landscape gardens for the 2014 growing season.  Gardens will include cherry tomatoes, ground cherries, eggplant, peppers, basil, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, mini watermelon, kale, chard, beans and common herbs. Everyone is welcome to harvest from these gardens.


Weekly FFI Bits – May 23

Bike to School Day 3SCHOOL WELLNESS – Ashley Turk, Food Corps
The bike racks at Wings Park Elementary in Oelwein were overflowing with bikes on National Bike to School Day, May 7. Over 70 students rode to school to celebrate! The principle, Dan Ratcliff, was completely blown away by the turn out. “We should have this many students bike everyday, this is just incredible”.  More.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The FFI Active Living Work Group and the Region’s Transportation Enhancement Committee are teaming up to collect some user opinions on our regional trail system.  As part of an ongoing project to collect some data about who is using the trail and why, trail users are encouraged to take an online survey to share their thoughts on our trails.  At various times this spring, summer and fall, volunteers will be collecting data on trail usage through trail counts at various trail locations throughout the five-county region.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
Nutrition labels are to help consumers choose foods to meet their nutritional needs, but it isn’t always easy to decode the numerous numbers and percentages. The labels include facts on calories, fats, sodium, fiber, sugar and other key items like vitamins and minerals. It’s a lot to take it in–especially when you thought would be a quick trip to the store.  Read how FFI partners are hosting fun and educational grocery store tours for NE Iowa families.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
To help teachers and school garden coordinators with food safety training for students, ISU Extension and Outreach has created a 1-hour online training course aimed at grades 4-5.  Through short videos, young gardeners demonstrate safe food production handling through the identification of biological, physical, and chemical hazards within the garden.


The Student Wellness Team at St. Joseph’s spent a day learning what it was like to try to plan healthy meals on a tight budget. They were divided into two teams and given $1.29 per person. Once their planning was complete, they walked to Fareway to purchase the food (while holding their breath that they stayed within their budgets) and returned to school to prepare their meals. Meals were judged by their cafeteria cooks on taste, appearance, and nutritional value.   Check out their Facebook page for photos.


Cooking for a crowd can be a bit scary the first few times you do it. One of the best ways to gain confidence in your abilities is organization. The ISU Extension AnswerLine staff is always happy to help you think through your meal and organize your game plan for a celebration. They have several resources to help you know how much food to purchase.  They can also help you with methods to safely serve food at safe temperatures.



Weekly FFI Bits – May 16

bike racks 2014ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Our Bike Rack Challenge has ended! The bike racks (above) were created from the ground up by high school industrial tech classes – and they did AWESOME! The bike rack with the most “likes” by next Friday, May 23 will be named “Fan Favorite” and wins a special prize! Vote for your favorite entry on our Facebook page.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Halesia Johnson
In Early Childhood we stress zero sugary drinks. This is why. The number of calories in a diet soda = 0.  It may sound like a wise pick, but here are 5 reasons to ditch the diet soda, especially with your children:

  1. Kidney decline. Two or more diet sodas a day double your risk.
  2. Metabolic Syndrome. You are 34% more likely to have symptoms, including belly fat, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease.
  3. Dental erosion. The acidity in diet soda erodes your teeth.
  4. Depression. Four or more cans a day increases your chances by 30%.

Stroke and heart disease.  More than one a day could increase your risk by 43%.



REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

SNEAK PEEK at the 2014 Buy Fresh, Buy Local directory.  Here is a map of this year’s farmer members, food businesses and farmers markets. This community resource is completely supported by membership dues.  Notice anything new?


The Iowa Food Hub, a project of partners NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, NE Iowa Food & Farm Coalition and Allamakee New Beginnings, is participating in the 2014 Food Hub Benchmarking survey coordinated by the Wallace Center.  With over 60 hubs already involved, the 2014 study promises to provide even more insight into the financial workings of regional food aggregation.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – Megan Woodward, AmeriCorps
One of the great things about working with little kids is that they truly say some hilarious stuff. I don’t know if it’s the spring air or what, but my students have been cracking me up.


SAFE TRAVELS to the team from NE Iowa heading to the WK Kellogg Foundation Food and Community meeting in Detroit next week: Ann Mansfield, Duane Whillhite, Cindy Schoulte, Joann Boyer, Emily Neal, Katie Prochaska, Johanna Bergan, Ashley Christensen, Cici Mueller, Arlene Enderton, Halesia Johnson, Sharon Burke and Nick Mabe.  This annual meeting connects us to other projects in the country supporting healthy people, schools and environments.


A sure sign of spring is when you see the asparagus arriving in the grocery store or if you are lucky, in your home garden.  If you are purchasing or growing more than your family can eat you might want to freeze some.



Support Farm to School by Gardening
Support your non-profit while shopping at K&K Gardens (Hawkeye) during the month of May.  K&K will give 10% of your total purchases, to your non-profit during the month of May.  You can support Farm to School efforts at West Central Schools and North Fayette Valley Schools through this program.  K & K Gardens has nearly one acre of enchanting perennial gardens displaying endless ideas for all levels of the gardening enthusiast.  Just spend money at K&K, hand the clerk your non-profit’s brochure (NE Iowa Farm to School) and 10% of each purchase goes to your non-profit.


Driftless Wisconsin Farm Crawl, June 22
Celebrate wonderful, small farms in Crawford County, Wisconsin. From 1-5pm, visit and tour six locations where you can meet local producers and learn more about what our region has to offer. The Farm Crawl is a free event open to anyone wishing to participate.  Click here for a map and details.