NE Iowa Food & Fitness Welcomes NICC as Newest Partner

Posted: September 19, 2012
NE Iowa Food & Fitness Welcomes NICC as Newest Partner

NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative is enthusiastic to announce Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) as the newest partner in their work.  NICC joins three other core partners -- Iowa State University Extension & Outreach—Region 4, Luther College, and Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission-- in efforts to create a shared vision for the region.  All of the partners have common missions and aligned values with FFI, and believe that by partnering as a rural six county collaborative, they can achieve more than FFI could alone.

FFI is a grassroots collaborative whose work focuses on school wellness, youth engagement, local food producers and system, improving community health and creating partnerships to help endure these efforts.  They works to create systems change in the region so every day all people can experience, celebrate and promote healthy locally grown foods and enjoy abundant opportunities for physical activity and play.

In April 2007, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation chose Northeast Iowa as a project site for their Food & Fitness Initiative, further supporting the region in developing strategic plans and policies that emphasize equity and promote healthy eating and physical activity within the region.  Residents across the region participated in a two-year planning phase led by ISU Extension and Luther College.  A three-year implementation grant followed and focused on three strategies: school wellness, local food system development and active living opportunities. 

ISU Extension and Outreach coordinates the work of the Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition to create opportunities for farmers to engage in the local food system.  ISU Extension also leads the youth engagement efforts in schools by embedding the work in the Iowa 4-H program.   The vision of FFI aligns closely with the mission of Iowa's land grant university—to create healthy people, healthy environments and healthy economies. 

Luther College coordinates education and outreach to school wellness teams and supervises the AmeriCorps and FoodCorps members.  Luther sets the example of healthy lifestyles for their region through their students and faculty.   Their campus has numerous sustainability initiatives. Luther's outreach for Northeast Iowa FFI focuses on policy, system and environmental changes that support  a sustainable, healthy choices and lifestyles , such as growing and using healthy, local foods and offering opportunities for active transportation.

Upper Explorerland joined FFI in 2011 to coordinate activities related to active transportation. Upper Explorerland brings expertise in community planning and advisory and resource development services that help communities build the future of Northeast Iowa.

FFI is excited NICC is now joining the work to expand the work of their newest strategy to young families.  NICC offers an early childhood childcare curriculum leading to an Associates in Arts and diploma degrees, and offers significant expertise for working with regional agencies, childcare providers, parents, and children from birth to five years of age.  The FFI will incorporate healthy eating and active living into parent's, student's and young children's everyday lives.

The FFI collaborative creates a vision for the entire region in which, school wellness teams lead and promote healthy living by all people.  Where all children get a healthy start to be able come to school ready to learn.  Where parents prepare healthy food, engage in active living, and expect their childcare to do the same.  Where food systems this is economically vibrant and growing with farmers while working through the local food hub to assure they can meet needs and assuring everyone has access to affordable, healthy food.   Where people of all ages walk, bike, and use active transportation to get to and from work, school or play.   

This image can be the future of NE Iowa, where people of every income, age, ethnicity, race, education, and walk of life provide leadership together to create a regional culture of health and well-being.  The four FFI partners, now including NICC, create the framework to achieve all that FFI is doing, so we can envision the future being created by working together.

In Northeast Iowa we work together because we believe healthier people make stronger families and vibrant communities. We hope to make the healthy choice the easy choice because ‘Together we grow healthy kids'.

View the Iowa Food and Fitness Calendar