About Ashley Turk

I am a FoodCorps volunteer serving with Luther College in partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.

A Goodbye to Northeast Iowa

Thank you note 1This is my final blog post. Just writing that sentence is surreal! I moved to Northeast Iowa in August 2013 to serve with Food and Fitness and I am now moving, a short two years later. In preparing for my upcoming transition, I have been cleaning out my apartment and office. In doing so, I found a stack of beautiful, bright thank you notes from a Head Start classroom from my first year of service. The notes almost brought me to tears and are a great walk down memory lane. The notes are full of drawings, the messages are translated by adult hands. They range from funny, “Thank you for the stickers,” to downright heart warming, “Thank you for teaching us about different foods. We like healthy food to eat.” Continue reading

Garden Artists

I’ve known for quite some time that I needed to write a blog post to capture the summer school program for 6,7,8 and 9th graders in my district. It’s been amazing and the highlight of my service this year. The only problem? A lack of time! Summer may be known for its long, lazy days, but this month has flown by (much to my surprise). Luckily, I got a chance to slow down and spend quality time with students outside, making me savor the season and all its glories.SS Garden 2 Continue reading

It Takes A Village

The smell of the grill wafted slowly down the hallways. Curious students and staff stuck their head out of classrooms, eager for lunch to arrive. “Oh my gosh,” one student exclaimed, “It smells SO GOOD!” “I’m STARVING!” I understood their feelings. It was just before eleven, and the smell of the cooking burgers was delicious, distracting, and too good to be ignored. What was the occasion for the barbecue? May is beef month. To celebrate, Waukon High School and Jr. High students ate local beef grilled by Allamakee Cattlemen and food service staff on May 7th. Cattleman Grill 5 Continue reading

A Sweet Farewell

This past week I have been celebrating the last cooking clubs of the year! It’s amazing how fast time has flown by since the start of the school year. Reflecting on this past year of after-school programming, some numbers ran through my head. I have taught over 150 students in cooking clubs, making over 20 different recipes. All total, I have spent over 70 hours with these students. Over 200 copies of recipes were printed and sent home to families. Continue reading

Seeing is Believing

As a resource contact, I happily teach children of all ages about the benefits of local food. Through song, taste tests, lessons, and gardening, I hope to instill an appreciation for fresh, local foods that help our environment, our communities, and our farmers. Rarely, however, do I get to take students out of school to witness local food in action – until this week! High school ag teacher Jessica O’Connor wanted to take students on a field trip to a production greenhouse. A perfect destination was found: Rolling Hills in West Union, owned by Eric & Fern Unruh. After Rolling Hills, we decided to tour the Iowa Food Hub, where we get many of the local foods for our school lunch program. We would finish at Unionland Market, just down the street from the Food Hub. It’s a great retail store that sells many local products, from baked goods to dairy. Students would be able to see different parts of our local food system, from producer to distributor to retailer. Continue reading

Apple Creatures

I don’t have Facebook, I don’t Tweet, nor do I Instagram. I do, however, follow several food and lifestlye blogs. I enjoy the sites for their beautiful photos and simple meal plans, and I’m always amazed at the bloggers’ seemingly limitless ideas for content! Unlike the bloggers I admire, I often have a hard time finding inspiration. Looking for the perfect lesson intro or recipe, it seems like I spend hours on the internet or asking trusted colleagues. Sometimes, the answer can be as simple as listening to a wise suggestion from a student! Continue reading

Host with the Most

Before holding a large school event, I always feel a little nervous. Like an anxious hostess, I want to make sure everyone has a great time! As some weather moved in earlier this week, I held my breath. On February 4th, we planned a field trip with the 21st Century After-school program. Jr high and high school students were going to visit The Pepperfield Project in Decorah. Founded by David Cavagnaro, the non-profit learning center and farm teaches the art and necessity of seed saving and sustainable eating. Since its inception, The Pepperfield Project has graciously donated seeds to our school gardens. I could think of no better way for students to connect with their food than visiting the source of the seeds they had planted. Continue reading

Smooth Success

What snack is always a crowd pleaser with students and never fails to get rave reviews? Pizza? Nope! Cupcakes? Not quite! Ice cream? Getting closer! I’ll give you a hint. It involves electricity, a little imagination, and the ability to be a great taster. Stumped? I’ll tell you – swamp smoothies! Despite the interesting sounding name (compliments of a third grader) most students love Green Smoothies! In a cooking club rut (we don’t always have access to a kitchen – just a microwave and sink), I spent way too much time scouring the internet and bugging my fellow resource contacts for simple, low-cost, healthy, and delicious recipes. Then I thought to myself, what would I want to eat? What do I enjoy? Lately, even though it’s wintertime, I have been all about the greens whipped up in my blender. Continue reading

Spice Up Your Life


I’ll tell you all something I have learned recently in my last year or so of service. The majority of food service staff I have had the pleasure to work with are fearless and open-minded trail blazers. They don’t balk at change or new federal lunch regulations. They solider on, adapting to new ways to serve up delicious, healthy meals for their students and staff. Did I mention they rarely complain and always seem to be smiling? Because Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, consider this my early love letter to the ladies who serve lunch in Allamakee Community Schools. Continue reading