Weekly Bits – Jan 23

10488067_10153087173584074_2307068262204469033_nFOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
This beautiful mural of Iowa agriculture was the backdrop of the Iowa Regional Food System Working Group meeting in Ames this week.  Local food coordinators from across the state meet once a quarter to share successes, challenges and resources.  I was part of a panel presentation on working with county Extension Councils to support local food work.  We also talked about hospitals as partners and learned more about Farm to School efforts across the state.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
The Northeast Iowa Funder’s Network has awarded $8,000 to FFI.  The funds will be used to leverage the recent Wellmark Foundation Match Grant funding plan to expand the Farm to Preschool work in NE Iowa early childhood environments beyond Head Start including regional preschools and daycares.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The Northeast Iowa Safe Routes to School Program was recently awarded $4,000 from the Mitchell-Howard County Opportunity Fund, which recognizes projects with an educational and/or environmental focus. This grant will support the Northeast Iowa SRTS Program’s on-going safety education and active school travel efforts in Howard County.


St. Joseph’s Middle School FFI 4-H team is organizing an all-school wellness afternoon of fun fitness activities for their school. The team plans wellness days frequently, and the school supports their philosophy of coming together, cheering for each other and enjoying fitness across all ages.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps Service members
Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged the country with the question, “What are you doing for others?”  The FFI service members spent the MLK National Day of Service making freezer meals for a local food pantry.

“It’s funny to plan an “extra” service project amongst the FFI Resource Contacts when volunteering is our full-time job,” reflects Paige in this week’s blog.  “We serve. We serve our communities and schools every single day. We do it because we want to share our work, knowledge, enthusiasm, energy, and positivity to influence others. We serve to make a difference, no matter how significant, because we all have an enormous passion for “Food & Fitness” work. We serve because we LOVE it.


We know that kids who eat healthier and move more perform better in school. It’s not just because teachers and administrators tell us so. Research shows that healthy kids get better grades, attend school more often and behave better in class.


Experts recommend that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. These minutes can come before, during, or after school as long as kids are staying active and having fun!


Active Living Research released a report recently about the effects of physical activity on academic success. The report found that physical activity can have both immediate and long-term benefits on long-term performance, including enhanced concentration.

Watch: The Effect of a Healthy School


Are you trying to start some healthy habits in the new year? Whether you’re trying to save money or eat better, packing a healthy lunch can help you do both! Salad is a common go-to option for people trying to eat better, but not all salads are created equal. Here is a quick guide to simplify packing salads for lunch.

Weekly Bits – Jan. 16

header oelweinYOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Laura Liechty
Oelwein FFA (right) is the first Farm to School Cross-Age Teaching group functioning as part of a high school curricula. The FFA department has integrated this program, including lesson prep and teaching to the elementary students, into their class period.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
Everyone needs to stay active this winter – here are some fun tips to be active as a family.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen

Know of a sidewalk in town that is falling apart?
Aware of street crossings that are unsafe for pedestrians?
How about any streets in town that just plain need a sidewalk? Let us know!


FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
I presented on the regional food system work, farm to school and Iowa Food Hub to the Winneshiek and Allamakee County Farm Bureau boards this week.  The Winneshiek board was very interested in farm to school and the Allamakee farmers liked the projects featuring local meat.  Thanks for the invitation!


We are deeply saddened to announce the departure of one of our AmeriCorps members this year. Due to extenuating personal and health-related concerns, Katrina Underwood has left her term of service as of December. We wish Katrina the best of luck as she deals with her health issues and wish her well in her next endeavor!
This is the first time we’ve had a member leave our organization before the end of service in the six years working with the AmeriCorps program. Over the last month, we have been working feverishly to find a resource contact for North Winneshiek and Clayton Ridge schools that will honor commitments for comprehensive school wellness. The stars have aligned and FFI is thrilled to announce the hiring of Michelle Hockersmith to help fulfill the RC role! An avid gardener, cook, and business consultant, Michelle is an experienced professional who has been deeply embedded in the Northeast Iowa community for over 12 years! Michelle will begin her work on January 20, we welcome her to FFI, and we are sincerely grateful for her willingness to step in and hit the ground running!


FoodCorps co-founder and Vice President of External Affairs Debra Eschmeyer has been selected to serve as Executive Director of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, and as the President’s Senior Policy Advisor on Nutrition. She is stepping into a role that was previously held by Sam Kass.


Jan. 24, Decorah. Going Solar Workshop. For those curious about installing solar for their farm, home, or business, the Going Solar Workshop will cover tax incentives, payback times, and installation options.

Feb. 3, Decorah. Taste of Winneshiek County.

By the Spoonful, McGregor, will be offering cooking classes in February featuring local, seasonal produce when possible and delicious creations of food in new, interesting, entertaining and healthy ways.


New Day’s Resolutions — Achieve a Little Health Every Day
In 2015, you don’t need to commit to just one healthy resolution for the entire year; you can achieve simple goals for health every day! Are you hoping to be more active? Resolve to cut down on screen time, take the stairs, or find local active spaces. Would you like to eat healthier? Take a day to de-salt, learn a new recipe, or get your family involved in the kitchen.  Take this month to focus on small daily resolutions that can spark larger lifestyle changes that we can continue for the rest of the year.  Start with one of these resolutions for today.

Weekly Bits – Jan 9

There was a Local Holiday Feast at North Fayette Valley.  The students enjoyed free-range turkey from Ferndale Farm in Cannon Falls, MN. Students also had local butternut squash baked into their traditional “pumpkin bars” for the school holiday meal. Above, students gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the food!  More.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Because Valley Elementary is located between two towns, many of the students arrive at various times, often well before the bell. Principal Gearhart started a new program to make better use of this time.  In the multi-purpose room, students gather about 10 minutes before the morning bell. They start off dancing to a “Just Dance” music video projected on the wall and sticker rewards given to the day’s “best dancers”. After the “words of wisdom” for the day about character and being a good student/person, they dismiss students by grade to make their way to the classrooms. What a perfect way to start the day!


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation has announced, that in collaboration with Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, it has raised the $75,000 needed to receive the $75,000 Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grant from The Wellmark Foundation. The grant will enable the Northeast Iowa Community Action to partner with FFI to create a preschool model for nutrition education.  More.


One of the primary activities of the school FoodCorps and AmeriCorps workers is to lead nutrition eduction and taste-tests in the classroom.  Not all school districts have service members, so in those communities ISU Extension staff are leading activities to connect kids to food and farming.  Recently, Clover Kids (K-3 students) in Nashua learned about livestock production and Clover Kids in Elma, Cresco and Riceville learned fun food facts during after-school programs.


FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
How can Master Gardeners support local food systems? In 2015, Iowa Master Gardeners will be exploring this question as part of their Winter Webinar Series.  Each year Master Gardeners are required to complete service hours as well as continued education hours.  The webinars will be offered in Fayette and Howard counties.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps members
Molly’s holiday break to-do list sits undone; however, she feel recharged as a person. Reflecting from a fleece cocoon on her living room couch, Molly talks about taking a break from the work in order to set herself up for success. Read her post, “Redefining Success: How I did not work over Christmas break.”

Now, winter break is officially over, Megan is getting back into the mindset of planning lessons, doing cafeteria taste tests, teaching before and after school programming, and all of the other stuff that goes along with being the RC for the Decorah Community School District. While she looking forward to getting back into her regular routine, the thing she is most excited about is getting to see these fruit and veggie lovers! 


Live Healthy Iowa Kids “10 Week Challenge” is FREE for youth in grades K-12 from Jan 26-April 3.  During the challenge, participants aim to be active for 60 minutes a day and are challenged to track their nutrition habits.  Each team needs 5-30 participants and and adult team captain.  Registration is open!

The Allamakee Master Gardeners are hosting a bus trip to the Wisconsin Garden Expo in Madison on Saturday, February 14.  They would leave Waukon at 6 am and return around 9 pm that night. The cost is $32 per person. The price includes bus fare and admission to the Expo.  Anyone is invited to attend.


What’s the most important part of a nutritious diet? Most of us can automatically recite the answer: Fruits and vegetables. And yet it can be tough to eat the daily recommended amount of produce, and most Americans simply don’t.  Part of the problem may be that we don’t really understand how much we were talking about. What does a daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables look like? Here are 10 photos of fruits and vegetables, each one a complete daily serving. It may not be as much as you think!

Weekly Bits – Jan. 2

FIFTY YEARS FROM NOW – Ashley Dress, FoodCorps
Some books are so good that you just need to savor them, carefully devouring each page in much the same way that you would eat crème brulee; because something that special, you want to make last.

The Third Plate by Dan Barber is one such book. Barber is the chef of two New York restaurants: Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located 45 minutes outside of the city. Both restaurants feature farm-to-table menus, which source ingredients locally whenever possible.

The book is chock full of quotable sentences, but I marked my book for the first time, when I read the following quote, said by Glenn Roberts, founder of Anson Mills: Fifty years from now, that’s when my work starts having some kind of meaning. And if I drop dead this instant, it carries on, because it’s out there now.”

He’s referring to the resurgence in popularity for seeds that are bred for flavor and not just yield, which his company distributes. I was struck, however, by how similar his sentiment is to the work that we do here in northeast Iowa.

I am so completely impatient for change. Every time that a student won’t try a taste test in the cafeteria or sneaks candy or chips into his locker, that little voice inside my head wants to scream, “WHY WON’T YOU JUST EAT VEGETABLES?”

And then, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I wasn’t so different at his age. My goodness, I loved me some candy and cookies and cake…the list goes on. And, I still love those things! But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was my love for vegetables or my willingness to try new things. I had to have education and exposure, and luckily, I have had a number of wonderful people in my life who I owe credit for giving me plenty of both of these things.

Maybe I’ll be one of these people to someone some day; maybe you will. Good work that lasts is usually not done instantaneously, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to brush our hands and say, “We’re finished.” I do know, though, that the momentum of this movement is too great. There are organizations all across the country and world that are spreading the word and singing the praises of good, fair food, so even though I may get frustrated every once in a while, change is happening, and it’s invigorating to be caught up in its energy.  Happy New Year!  (Read the full post)


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Upper Explorerland is accepting regional grant applications to fund Safe Routes to School, Recreational Trail, Scenic Byway and Transportation Enhancement projects.  Applications are due Feb. 27.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
A new study from the University of Minnesota suggests that 1 or 2 family meals a week can almost cut your child’s risk of being overweight in half.


2015 looks bright! With our Food & Fitness 4-H Clubs, we help youth have a voice. Voices to share their ideas, dreams and wishes to better their schools, communities, friends and families by promoting the importance of improving health and wellness in our environments.

These students are speaking up and taking action… not because they have the almighty solution to all the health issues in our country or even county, but because they want to be intentional in beginning the change making process in their communities. The teams reported at our meeting in December about the work they have been doing this school year and their plans for the second semester.  Check out the plans for your school.


FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
At a day-long workshop January 9 in Ames, stakeholders from Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Cresco will discuss a process they’ve followed over the past year to identify activities that could grow the local food sector in their own communities. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the Iowa State University Community Design Lab (CDL) and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The workshop introduces the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit, a process to set common goals related to the local food system, and to create or connect existing activities such as school gardens, urban farms, food hubs, mobile markets and farmers markets, to accomplish those goals. The workshop will be held at Design On Main, 203 Main Street, Ames. A light breakfast and lunch will be served. Registration is requested by January 5 to provide an accurate meal count.  A  full agenda and a link to registration is here.

Travel scholarships of up to $50 per vehicle also are available for workshop attendees. For more information, contact Long at court7@iastate.edu, (515) 294-2213.


PARTNER NEWS — “I may not be a great farmer or even a slightly good one, but I do like to think that I am part of growing something because I am an Oneota Co-op member,” writes David Lester, Oneota Co-op General Manager in a recent blog.  “As a member I am “growing” a business that is conscious of the products it sells and is trying to be the most sustainable business model that it can be. Members of our Co-op are growing more opportunities for local producers and farming families in this part of the world and are also using their purchasing power to support family farmers in other parts of the world who are growing Fair-Trade items.”


As New Year unfolds, many of us think of things we would like to change in our lives. There are many different approaches to making New Year’s resolutions.  It is tempting to consider making drastic lifestyle changes to accomplish a major goal as quickly as possible. This may not be the most effective strategy; instead, consider making small, manageable steps.


Weekly Bits – Dec 23

header xmasLOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Local and regional food system professionals are obliged to rely on imperfect, incomplete, and evolving measures to track economic changes in the local food industry. These data are critical for informing decisions on how to invest limited resources to create optimal impacts. In a recent editorial published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development, Corry Bregendahl and Craig Chase (Leopold Center) talk about how the the economic data assessment process — first launched in northeast Iowa and now, statewide — can start to fill in those gaps and craft the story of system change.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission  was recently awarded $4,900 from the Iowa Cancer Consortium to promote safety and physical activity in upcoming Safe Routes to School (SRTS) activities this spring. The funds will be used to purchase youth bike helmets, reflective safety decorations for bikes and helmets, bike rodeo safety equipment and Walking School Bus volunteer safety vests.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
I keep seasonal vegetables on my shopping list all the time. Last time I was at the grocery store in the produce section I overheard a little girl ask her mom when it was going to snow. I thought it was because of the holiday season and Santa’s sled, but I was wrong. She wanted to build a snowman and saw the carrots to use for a nose.  Luckily, her mother said they could buy the carrots even if it didn’t snow because they could eat them and buy more if it snowed. I was so proud of this mother.


Wellness Wednesday is an after school program hosted by Decorah high schoolers for students in kindergarten through 2nd grade. This year, they had 75 elementary school students participate.   This a great program program where both big kids and little kids have a great time being active in the gym, playing games, and eating healthy snacks.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps service members
Megan Woodward’s (Decorah AmeriCorps) taste tests for December have all been about one thing: moderation. With the holidays around the corner, treats are going to be everywhere and the kids know it too. To get students up and moving and thinking about “Sometimes” foods, she gave every child a food card with either a fruit, vegetable, or sweet on it. If their card was an “Everyday” food, they jumped as high as they could, if it was a “Sometimes” food they squatted down.


TIP OF THE WEEK:  If you find yourself racing to find a last-minute gift, look no further! Here is a collection of Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes that make great low-cost gifts.



Weekly Bits – Dec 19

header ribbon cutLOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
A Wonderful Welcome!
  Iowa Food Hub was officially welcomed into the West Union Community with a ribbon cutting and Meet & Greet on Thursday afternoon.  Thank you to all who have supported us on this journey!


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
As the days grow shorter and colder, it is often hard to find the motivation to get up and moving and stay active.  At Turkey Valley, December is “Be Fit, Be Active” month.  Each week is a new activity topic. This past week was Just Dance. Check out their moves!


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
Recently Kali Wenger and Emily Carlson, preschool teachers at North Fayette Vally – Elgin had fun introducing beans to their students and teaching them a little math and science at the same time.


Clayton Ridge High School forms a youth team as part of the Food & Fitness Initiative.  They recently brainstormed ideas for improving the wellness of fellow students, and came up with priorities like decreasing food waste, providing a salad bar in the cafeteria, and simply adding more vegetables to sides like rice at lunch.  Welcome!


SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps service members
Postville students are turning orange with envy.  This month, cross-age teachers are teaching second grade classrooms all about local carrots. Service member Ashley Dress has taste tests planned every Friday featuring carrots: sweet potato and carrot mash (that tasted a lot like pumpkin pie filling), crispy carrot fries and Asian-style carrots.  She is hoping to turn any carrot-haters around!  And, lining our lunchroom hallway, we’re featuring these great photos of some current carrot-lovers!


Allamakee Schools recently received a donation from a community member to support purchases of local meat for school meals.  The donation was facilitated by the Iowa Food Hub and Allamakee New Beginnings, a 501c3 non-profit.  Consider giving the gift of local food to your school this holiday season.


TIP OF THE WEEK:  The temperatures are dropping, and the holiday season is right around the corner. The holidays are a great time to celebrate and enjoy the company of family and friends. The month is filled with parties and good cheer – and plenty of food! Here are some ideas to keep the holidays delicious without throwing nutrition to the wind.



Weekly Bits – Dec 12

header FEESTGET COOKING!  State 4-H Youth Program Leader, John Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas, visited Postville’s FEEST where they trained MFL MarMac students who are hoping to start FEEST at their school.  Above, the students go through the menu planning activity once they see the ingredients available.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The City of Elma was recently selected as one of five communities throughout the state to participate in a project sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) to encourage Iowans to be physically active and eat well.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
If you have a preschooler in your life I bet you have heard ‘Let It Go, Let It Go’ more than once lately. The famous song from the Disney animated movie, ‘Frozen’ is known by every young child, even those who haven’t seen the movie.  Well, I want you to take the saying to heart – literally to help your heart and your health.  Check out the Food and Fitness twist to “Let It Go.”


LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage

Meet & Greet






SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps service members
The Friends of St. Joseph Community School hosted their third annual Spaghetti Supper fundraiser featuring tomatoes from the school’s garden.  They processed 300 lbs of home grown, garden fresh tomatoes which made 125 quarts of spaghetti sauce for the event.


New Staff at IFH. Georgia Windhorst is joining Iowa Food Hub as a Marketing and Sales Assistant.  She will be assisting with customer service, local food sales and farm to school outreach.  Windhorst will be working at the Iowa Food Hub distribution facility in West Union.

Winter Farmers Market, Marquette.  Shop local this holiday season at the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre’s farmers market and holiday craft fair in Marquette, Iowa on Sunday, Dec. 14 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. With meat products, baked goods, wine, pottery, and soaps, you’re sure to find that special gift you’ve been looking for. Call 873-3537, or visit our Facebook page to learn more.

Toolkit in National Publication. The toolkit on worksite local food boxes, developed by Iowa Food Hub and the Leopold Center, was featured in Mother Earth News this month.

Oneota Co-op raises $3,200 for local food pantries. The Oneota Community Food Co-op says it raised $3,700 for area food pantries from its recent Taste of the Holidays Event.  Over 200 people attended the event, paying $15 per person, with all of the proceeds split between four local food pantries: Decorah Lutheran Church, First Lutheran Church, Greater Area Pantry, and NE Iowa Community Action.  Decorah Bank & Trust gave an additional contribution of $500. Since the inception of this yearly fundraiser in 2009, the Co-op has raised over $18,000.

Beginning Farmer Investment. Practical Farmers of Iowa has selected 26 beginning farmers to enroll into its Savings Incentive Program. NE Iowa inductees include Hannah Breckbill, Decorah; Marty Grimm, Decorah; Kayla Koether and Landon Corlett, McGregor.  The two-year program pairs beginning and aspiring farmers with experienced mentors; provides targeted learning opportunities; offers business planning support and guidance; and gives participants the chance to save money and receive matching funds while learning how to build a profitable farm.

New Guide for Importance of School Meals. People who make decisions about school meal programs need to understand the changing school environment, specifically school meal requirements and goals, nutrition education and children’s needs for physical activity. They’ll find that information in a newly revised publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Funds for Community Gardens.  Sow It Forward is the grants and partnership program of Kitchen Gardeners International. The grant is for nonprofit causes or organizations interested in starting or expanding food garden projects that are of general benefit to their community.  Past grantees include school gardens, community gardens, food bank gardens, library gardens, senior gardens, prison gardens and homeless shelter gardens among others.  The application deadline Friday, January 9, 2015.


TIP OF THE WEEK:  It’s the time of year when many of us have family visiting and special get-togethers that involve food. You can save a lot of money by having holiday parties at home rather than in a restaurant and it is usually more fun too.  Wouldn’t it be more fun if you knew your kitchen is ready for the extra traffic?  Here are some tips to make sure your kitchen is organized for holiday entertaining.

Weekly Bits – Dec 5

header coolerGETTING CLOSER!  The cooler and freezer for the Iowa Food Hub was installed this week.  The pre-opening inspection day has been set.  Fingers are crossed that IFH will be operating from its new West Union location by Christmas!  Did you see the coverage by KCRG-TV this week? 


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
The Bike Rack Challenge encourages biking to school and other community destinations through youth creativity, skill and leadership. Each spring, high school industrial technology classes are challenged to construct a usable bike rack for their school or other community location using as much recycled material as possible. Classes have from January until May to design and construct their bike rack. There is still time to sign-up!


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
Beans really are the magical fruit. Did you know eating only a 1/2 cup serving a day of fiber-rich beans, chickpeas or lentils can significantly reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol?    Preschool classrooms have been tasting beans — and liking them!  They made black bean quesadillas at Rainbow Land Preschool in Fayette.  At New Hampton TLC Preschool, the youngsters learned about different kinds of beans, listened to a story and tasted a bean salad.


LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
New Report! Local food sales grow 25 percent to $13 million  

According to the press release, Iowa farmers sold about $13 million in vegetables, fruits, meat and other products last year, a 25 percent increase over 2012, according to a study from Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. A new report shows local food economy continues to expand in Iowa. View the statewide report hereNE Iowa report.


SCHOOL WELLNESS – FoodCorps and AmeriCorps service members
Ashley Turk thinks November 20 was an amazing day.  Allamakee Community schools was officially recognized as an Iowa Farm to School Chapter by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.  Congratulations!

Cassie served roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes as a taste-test at Central schools.

N. Winn students learned how massaging your vegetables – like kale – makes them even better!


The Waukon 4-H Food & Fitness team organized fitness activities to implement at a local elementary. Students and teachers joined in on tug of war, duck-duck-goose and other fun events. When the other elementary school heard about it, they asked the team to come lead activities at their school too!


TIP OF THE WEEK:  A little advanced planning goes a long way towards adding cheer instead of stress to the holidays, according to two human science specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.



Weekly Bits – Nov 14

SCHOOL WELLNESS – Paige Wettach, North Fayette Valley AmeriCorps
I jump at any opportunity to dress in character and have fun in costume. I tried my best not to be a huge distraction in the school, but sometimes I can’t help myself. An oversized witch’s hat fully decked out with feathers and sparkles, plus arms full of prizes definitely draw the eyes of little ones.  Read more about Paige’s adventures as the “Switch Witch” at North Fayette Elementary.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
When there’s an emergency on on bike trail, police and ambulance crews want to get to the scene as quickly as they can.  But finding the scene of a bicycle accident, for instance, is more challenging than locating a car accident on a particular road.  A Decorah Boy Scout is working on an Eagle project that would give emergency workers GPS coordinates that would lead them to the scene.


YOUTH ENGAGEMENT – Katie Blocker, AmeriCorps
Did you know that 14.9% of Americans go hungry each day?  That’s almost 50 million people in our nation! However, we are one of the largest food producers in the world. How did we manage that?  Students at St. Joseph Community School’s discussed hunger as part of World Food Day, Nov. 4.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
Come and attend an open house for a new project in Cresco: Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit. This project focuses on improving food access in Cresco through various best management practices of production and program development. The ISU Community Design Lab is hosting an open house Wednesday, November 19 from 5:00-7:00 pm at Hawkeye REC.  This will be an open house format to learn about best management practices for developing local food systems. What is Ag Urbanism?


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
With Thanksgiving fast approaching and planning holiday meals, I want you to think farm to fork, farm to table, garden to table or producer to plate — whatever you want to call it — just get the younger kids involved in the process.  From the farm to your table is not a new concept.  Our ancestors did it.  The Pilgrims did it. This is what ‘Farm to Preschool’ is all about. We want everyone to know more about the food they are eating by educating the children and families.


A two-year grant from the Leopold Center’s Marketing and Food Systems Initiative helped owners of several Iowa small meat processing facilities learn how to improve profitability, primarily by building on their competitive advantages over larger operations.  They worked with Nick McCann from Iowa State University Extension to look at common problems, such as how to manage the facilities during the busy deer hunting season and ways to increase sales during the slow season.


TIP OF THE WEEK:   Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce is hard to imagine for some people. If you are feeling adventurous this year you may want to try something new. The cranberry is a very versatile fruit and in season now.  The ISU Answerline has tips on how to make or can your own cranberry sauce.


GT_2014Web-Banner_250x250_BlueAltIowans are generous people all year around. We give of our resources, time and talents to the organizations that are there to help our neighbors in their times of need. December 2 is Giving Tuesday – a great reminder to take a break from the season and remember local charities in Iowa who are making positive differences in our own community.  We hope FFI is on your list this season.




Weekly Bits – Nov 7

This year for Halloween, Cassie (AmeriCorps at Central, above) decided to be sushi. She thought it would be a fun costume to wear to school and introduce a new type of food to the kids. She also decided to have a hummus taste test. What better day to shove carrots and hummus at kids, than Halloween, the day of sugar highs and changed identity!  Read the kids’ response.


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Highlighting the school’s commitment to its students, Wings Park in Oelwein is always thinking up fun, clever ways to engage students and families in healthy activities. One example is the new “Story Walk” along the school’s trail. Barb Schmitz, school guidance counselor, brought the idea to life over the summer with rave reviews!


Sixth graders from Howard-Winn are attending the Super Power Summit next week.  The event sets out to empower students to be advocates for school wellness and challenges them to lead wellness efforts with their peers upon return to school.


REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
A new report outlines the work of the Local Food and Farm Program funded by the Iowa Legislature. The program complements efforts of the Leopold Center’s Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, ISU Extension and Outreach, and other groups working to increase the number of jobs along the local food chain. NE Iowa FFI and Iowa Food Hub are mentioned specifically!

Practical Farmers of Iowa announces its fall lineup of online webinars, called “farminars.” They occur each Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m. CST, starting Nov. 11 through Dec. 23, and are open to everyone.  The first farminar is set for Nov. 11 and will focus on the financial sections of your business plan. Presenters will go through worksheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education book “Building a Sustainable Business.”


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
Check out the blog for cool updates from Farm to Preschool activities in Decorah, New Hampton and Waukon.  At Sunflower Preschool the children’s choice of study in October was ice-cream. “One of our songs we used was off of Youtube, ‘Do you like broccoli ice-cream?’ We goggled broccoli ice-cream and found out there actually was such a thing and with broccoli being the food of the month we decided to make it as a class and share it with our families.”  Did you know there was broccoli ice cream?


Election Impact
This year’s mid-term elections found some friends of FFI being elected to local and state leadership roles.  Current FFI Regional Team member Brandon Friedlein was elected to the Clayton County Extension Council.  State Representatives Bruce Bearinger, Todd Prichard and Patti Ruff were all re-elected.  Sadly, former FFI Regional Team member Rick Edwards was defeated in his bid for the State House by just 31 votes!

Last week, the Food Access and Health Work Group’s Leadership Team released the comments submitted by candidates to a questionnaire based off of FAWG’s voter action guide.  This survey outlined questions aimed at issues such as food security, hunger, nutrition, health, food assistance, farming, gardening, processing, farmer’s markets, food hubs and food waste.  State Representatives Prichard and Ruff submitted comments to this survey.


TIP OF THE WEEK:   We hear it on the news almost every day. Remember to wash your hands, or hand washing can prevent the spread of disease.  But is it really that important?  The Center for Disease Control has a long list of the science behind the importance of hand washing.  It really can be a simple procedure; yet not everyone knows how to effectively wash their hands.  The ISU Answerline has some tips for teaching your children.