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

Farm to School Census: Postville on Top

The USDA has released data for the Farm to School Census. This is the second year of the census, which looked at farm to school activities in school districts across the nation for the 2013-14 school year. Nationally, the dollars spent on local foods increased by over 100% from the previous census (2011-12). State specific data reports that 75% of the school districts in Iowa completed the survey. From those that participated in the survey, 29% participated in farm to school activities. Continue reading

Mid-Winter Musings

Unlike most of the K-12 educators we work with in schools across the country, FoodCorps service members don’t have tests to prepare our students for, we don’t have the pressure of teacher accountability if our students don’t meet certain learning benchmarks, and we always have really fun material to work with. The freedom and flexibility of our positions, if we wield them correctly, can lead to immense opportunities to pay close attention to and address our students’ well being — and not just as it relates to food. As service members, we are also in a unique position to be able to impact the social/emotional lives (and thus, a more holistic well-being) of the students we serve. 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

Kale Chips and Life Lessons

On October 7, I had a revelation. An idea that had been stewing in my brain, subconsciously, finally made itself apparent. I’ve heard it articulated many times in many different contexts. But now I get it. This idea has certainly informed my FoodCorps service thus far, even if I didn’t acknowledge it explicitly, but I now understand that it effectively sums up what I know about creating change: you must meet people where they’re at.


Nowhere illustrates concept this as well as a school lunchroom on the day of a kale chip taste test. Continue reading