Youth Leaders Address the Issues of Poverty, Hunger and Food Insecurity

4-H Food and Fitness members gathered from 9 school districts around NE Iowa for the Regional Youth Leadership Team winter gathering on the Luther College campus this month. These youth and adults from area schools meet quarterly to learn about wellness issues in their communities, identify projects to help their school or community, and network by sharing experiences of their club projects and build ideas for future ones. Continue reading

Summer in Winter

The school garden beds in Oelwein are blanketed in snow and ice, and the sub-zero temperatures today seem so distant from the heat and humidity of the Northeast Iowa summer.  I have been filling up on roots: turnips, carrots, and potatoes.  Storage crops grown by local farmers this past season are keeping me nourished and warm during this season of sleep.  I am so lucky to have access to healthy, local food.  I am so privileged to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Continue reading

Our Hands Tell the Story


At this very moment, my palms are stained the loveliest shade of neon red. Yesterday, they were a deep, cabbage purple. Several seasons of school garden soil are crammed under my never-manicured nails, and it will not budge, no matter how well I scrub. Both of my thumbs sustained painful but non-life threatening injuries this past week. On Monday, I nicked my left thumb while cutting I don’t remember what. This happened right after a knife skills and safety training. As I say to the Kindergarteners, maybe I should have had my listening ears on (during that training). The tip of my right thumb narrowly escaped a trip to the ER yesterday when I carelessly misjudged the food processor I was cleaning after prepping that hand-staining, purple cabbage. My hands tell the story of my FoodCorps service. Continue reading

Together, We Plant Seeds of Change.

The time flew far, far away, and here I am at the beginning of a new ‘back to school’ year serving my second term as a FoodCorps service member with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative at Luther College. I remember last year. I remember when asking for advice on how to approach my service term, a returning service member let me know that I’d pretty much have no idea what I was doing until January. Even with that advice, my unshakable belief in real food and healthy kids lead me to enter Day 1 of my service year feeling like I was going to change the world. Flash forward to Day 30, after my first month of service, and I still had not taught a lesson in a classroom. I was struggling to learn and remember names. My belief in real food for all kids was as strong as ever, but I wondered if I was making any impact. Continue reading