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Starmont Foods Classes Jazz Up Desserts with Vegetables

Posted: January 5, 2012
As school budgets tighten, family and consumer science (FCS) courses are often cut.  However, ask any FCS teacher (or member of Food & Fitness) and he or she will certainly enlighten you to the benefits of such education.

FCS classes are a natural fit with the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.  Students are empowered with skills needed to cook for themselves and are able to more carefully decide what goes into their bodies.  Lessons about well-balanced meals and good nutrition provided by FCS teachers further enable students to make the right decisions.

Starmont FCS Teacher, Jan Murray approached FFI AmeriCorps Resource Contact Elizabeth Makarewicz, about teaching a dessert lesson for her Foods I class.  

With a touch of creativity and advice from Mrs. Murray, Makarewicz chose two recipes that would utilize veggies— beet chocolate cake and squash quick bread.  The lesson took place over three days.  One the first day, students chopped, cooked, and pureed beets and squash in preparation for the baking.  The vegetables were blended into batter and baked on the second day.  And on the third day, they tasted.

Impressions?  Though students were initially tentative about the desserts baked with mush that reminded them of baby food, in the end, they hardly noticed the purees.

Tag: schoolwellness
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Decorah Teens Lead Afterschool Health Club

Posted: January 5, 2012
by Liz Hovden, Decorah FFI Youth 4-H Team Member

What started as a distant dream of an active school district has now blossomed into a lively afterschool program.

Four Decorah High School seniors, Abby Meirick, Liz Hovden, Bre Pierce, and Rachel Haindfield, created the idea of a weekly wellness driven program for students kindergarten through fourth grade. This program was made possible with the money earned from the "That was Easy Fun Run" the students held on November 5.

Once a week around 70 children partake in active games, a health or wellness lesson, and a healthy snack. Under the supervision of many high school volunteers, hidden sugar lessons were taught, obstacle courses created, food lessons delivered, and healthy snacks encouraged. At the conclusion of the two-hour program, each child walks away with a smile across their face and a worn out body, an example that activity can be fun.

One week each child ran a mile. While this activity may have seemed like a daunting task, smiles spread across faces as they raced themselves and their friends around the track. At the conclusion, one little girl begged to run another, and she did.

The excitement these children express while being active provides an encouraging hope for the health of their future.

Tag: youthengagement

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N. Fayette Students Sample Squash Fries

Posted: January 5, 2012
In December, FoodCorps service member and FFI Resource Contact, Leah Chapman conducted a cafeteria taste-test at West Union Elementary. Chapman worked with Food Service Director, Carol Stanbrough to find a creative use of excess butternut squash.  Chapman made "squash fries" for students to sample.

Chapman spoke to students about squash fries. She told students the fries were made out of butternut squash, a food they helped grow in their school garden.

Chapman did an informal vote to see if students would eat the fries if they were served for school lunch. The majority of the students, especially the 4th-5th grade students liked them.  The fries, which were roasted with cinnamon, nutmeg and a little salt, were sweet.

Tag: schoolwellness
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Cooking Kits to Schools

Posted: January 5, 2012
The holiday season came early for food service staff in northeast Iowa! Several cooking kits were donated to schools working with chefs to improve school nutrition programs.

These kits included a stainless 8-quart stockpot, 3-quart saucepan, 12-inch frying pan, induction burner, low-oil fryer, utensil set, 18-centimeter chef's knife, 4-inch paring knife, large cutting board, 3-piece mixing bowl, and measuring cup.  Each kit is a $2,000 value! 

South Winn, Decorah, North Winn, Oelwein, Turkey Valley, Postville, New Hampton, and MFL MarMac School Districts received a kit because of their participation in the NE Iowa FFI's 5th Season Workshop(s).  A kit was also donated to North Fayette School District for their involvement in F.E.E.S.T. 

Thank you All Clad, Share our Strength, Partnership for a Healthier America, and FoodCorps for this generous donation! 

Tag: schoolwellness
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Luther Gardens increase production 75 percent in 2011

Posted: December 27, 2011
Luther Gardens produced 75 percent more produce in 2011 than during the previous growing season, reports the Luther environmental studies program.  The four garden operations in the Luther Gardens project provided a significant increase in the locally grown foods prepared and served by Luther Dining Services.

The gardens produced nearly 200 pounds of basil, over 300 pounds of mixed greens and head lettuce, 350 pounds of peppers, over 325 pounds of cherry tomatoes and 160 pounds of purple, red, orange and yellow carrots.

Luther dining services general manager Wayne Tudor suggested that one of the edible landscapes be planted as a salsa garden in 2011so that its produce could be the featured foods at a student event on campus. The salsa garden grew tomatillos, tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, onions, cilantro and flowers that were served at a salsa bar in Marty's Cybercafé in Dahl Centennial Union during a salsa concert and dance.

The second edible landscape, located between Ylvisaker Hall and Dieseth Hall on the north side of campus, was developed as a Diversity Garden.  It produced 35 varieties of Asian vegetables, including several types of gourds, radishes, cucumbers and melons. Many of the vegetable varieties may never been grown in northeast Iowa before.

Tag: foodsystems
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Regional Youth Investigate Value of Food

Posted: December 12, 2011
Members of youth FFI 4-H teams recently attended a workshop focused on the concept "Food has Value."

Youth, youth coaches and 4-H County Youth Coordinators participated in three interactive stations: Would you Rather?, Face Your Plate, and Share the Wealth Shopping Drama. At each station students explored a variety of scenarios and questions. Participants were encouraged to think about the value of consuming whole, fresh foods and shopping locally.

Youth and adults were also given food investigation journals. They will share their reflections at the next youth meeting.  Youth will continue their investigation of the value of food by listening to panelists including food service directors, local farmers and food procurement specialists. Youth will develop definitions of "local" for their schools.

After lunch, the youth participated in a game of frisbee golf at a local park.  The Postville FFI 4-H Team raised funds and installed the course as a project earlier that year. 

Tag: youthengagement foodsystems

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Growing in the Garden Upcoming ICN Series

Posted: December 12, 2011
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Connecting Learning & Living curriculum provides garden-based, nutritional, environmental and agricultural education to youth of all ages, through hands-on lessons and activities that connect learning in classrooms and after-school programs with living on planet Earth.  

Growing in the Garden, includes over forty classroom and after-school program lessons and more than one hundred hands-on activities intended to engage youth in ways to improve their health, their ability to learn, and to share what they learn with their families and communities.

Iowa State University Extension and Iowa Department of Education's Team Nutrition Program are partnering to showcase the Growing in the Garden curriculum through a series of ICNs that will be offered at no charge.

ICN  for PK-3 Teachers
•    Students Go, Grow, and Glow through Growing in the Garden - Monday, December 5th – 3:45-4:50pm
o    The first 90 teachers to register will receive a FREE Growing in the Garden curriculum, a value of $60.

ICNs for 1st and 2nd Grade Classrooms
•    How Important is Food to You? - February 21st, 2012 – 10:00-10:50am
•    Where Does Your Food Come From - March 27th, 2012 – 10:00-10:50am
•    Let's Get Growing! - April 3rd, 2012 – 10:00-10:50am

Tag: schoolwellness foodsystems

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Iowa Safe Routes to School Partnership Launched

Posted: December 9, 2011
Beginning in 2012 the Iowa Safe Routes to School Program will be launching a statewide partnership for individual schools throughout Iowa.  The partnership will seek to bring together the many practitioners, coordinators, and champions of Safe Routes to School and to provide an open means of communication and sharing between the many school level programs in Iowa.  

Not only will schools be able to bounce ideas and success stories off of other members but as an organization the Iowa Safe Routes Program will be able to better serve partnering members by providing resources, news updates, and incentives for qualifying programs.  Our hope is that all of this will eventually result in a network that is large enough to support a yearly conference dedicated to the Safe Routes to School Program and ways to further the program at the local level.

Schools interested in becoming inaugural members of the Safe Routes to School Partnership can read more about the partnership and its structure, which includes a tiered structure for schools to progress through as they implement more programs and strive for sustainability, at the Iowa Safe Routes to School webpage and click on "partnership" tab.

This page not only includes all of the requisite background information but at the bottom you will find a webform which will allow you to take the first step in becoming a school level partner.  This form is also  available as a hard copy and can be mailed to you upon request.

For more information about this program, contact Nick Sobocinski, Iowa Bicycle Coalition at or 515.309.2867.

Tag: activeliving schoolwellness
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NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative Endowment Announced

Posted: December 7, 2011
Friends and benefactors have recently established an endowment to support the work of  the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI).  The endowment is a way for citizens to invest in the ongoing work of this initiative, which will make the healthy choice the easy choice for generations to come.

The FFI is a comprised of a growing number of people in Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties working together to create vibrant communities where every day all people in NE Iowa have access to healthy, locally grown foods and abundant opportunities for physical activity and play. This effort is part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Community program which invests in community-driven policy and system change projects.  More information about the FFI is available at

The endowment has been invested with the Allamakee County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.  Gifts to this fund are eligible for the Endow Iowa 25tate tax credit.  Gifts to this fund can also be made online at

For more information about the fund, contact M.J. Smith, Director of Affiliate Foundations at 563-880-9992.
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New Hampton Farmers Market to have new look

Posted: December 2, 2011
New Hampton's Farmers Market will not only change its hours next summer but it's also switching days and moving to a new location.

The changes were announced last week by a five-member committee that will run the market next summer after Market Manager LaVonne Zimmerman said she wouldn't return in the summer of 2012.

Committee members say their hope is that the changes — moving the market from Saturday mornings to Thursday evening and relocating the market to the new Car Quest store (the former New Hampton Family Foods) parking lot — will spark renewed interest from both sellers and buyers.

"It's gotten pretty small in recent years," said committee member Rick Kramer, the director of the New Hampton Parks and Recreation Department that will serve as the "base" for the new Farmers Market. "We think there's interest in having one here, we just need to find the right combination to get more vendors and buyers."

Other members of the committee include Suellen Kolbet, Tammy Robinson, Mary Prouty and Joanne Tupper.

The key, they believe, to growing the Farmers Market is attracting vendors. In recent years, the Saturday morning Farmers Market had what Kramer called a small number of vendors.

"It's one reason we're getting the word out now is because people order their seeds and start planning for next summer now," Kramer said. "We want any potential vendors to know that there will be a market this summer."

Although the new market will include homegrown produce and baked items, it will also be open to crafters, as along as the crafts are handmade.

Source:  New Hampton Tribune, 12/2/11

Tag: foodsytems
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