About Molly Schintler

Molly is a grower of food and equality. She is serving as a FoodCorps member with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative in her home state, Iowa, in the city of Oelwein. As a service member, she will work with K-12th graders teaching nutrition and garden education. Prior to serving with FoodCorps, Molly toured North America planning and hosting farm dinners with Outstanding in the Field, spent a season as a farm apprentice at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and managed a community garden project growing local, organic produce for the Johnson County Crisis Center. Molly believes in the power of growing love and leafy greens.

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

Thank You from Wings Park Elementary

This past Friday I had lessons with the 2nd graders at Wings Park Elementary School to introduce them to one of my favorite, local, spring foods: ASPARAGUS! Asparagus is especially relevant because Wings Park is currently expanding their school garden, and planning to grow a wider variety of fruits and vegetables including asparagus.  All of the students were feeling thankful for the many individuals and organizations that have stepped up to support the school garden project.  Together, we decided that “Thank You” letters would be a great way to express our gratitude.  Here are a few highlights: Continue reading

Tiny Seeds with Tiny People

Today, I taught a brief lesson to one of Oelwein’s Head Start classrooms. We talked about their school garden and how we would be planting seeds there soon. Each student had the opportunity to look at and touch the seeds that we will plant this spring and summer. As the students passed around a ziplock bag full of watermelon seeds, I explained that “these tiny seeds will grow into huge watermelons”. One four-year-old boy’s eyes got really big as he excitedly reacted with a “WOAH!!”. I could not agree more. Also, I could not help but think that those tiny four and five year old students are so similar to the tiny watermelon seeds, full of infinite possibility and promise. Continue reading

“Real Talk” / My Story

I spent the last few days in February with 70 plus FoodCorps service members from throughout the central and southern regions of the United States. Like a hoard of locusts, we descended upon Athens, Georgia with copious amounts of kitschy food swag (think root vegetable print socks, honey bee earrings, and bags adorned with punny sayings like “Lettuce Turnip the Beet”). It felt so good to be with my vegetable loving people. Half way through my service term, this gathering gave me time to reflect on my service thus far and refocus my priorities and the lens from which I work looking forward to the spring and summer. There were a multitude of resources that I gathered over the training, and I could not stop thinking about how I might integrate these into my work with the entire Food and Fitness team and the Oelwein schools. Continue reading

Not So Short But Sweet Like a Baby Bell Pepper

February’s Pick A Better Snack lessons have focused on the sometimes spicy, other times sweet, and always nutritious pepper. Pick A Better Snack is the nutrition education curriculum that I teach to all of Oelwein’s Knd-3rd grade students. Every month when the students see my in the hallway wearing an apron and navigating the sea of children and school supplies with my super snack cart, they scream out in excitement, “Snack Day!”. Some ask, “What are we trying today, Miss Molly?”. My favorite reaction to my mere presence came last week from one of the first grade students at Parkside Elementary School. As my cart wheeled by her, she took a dramatic whiff of the air and declared, “I don’t know what we are trying today, but it smells amazing!”. Now, the baby bell peppers that we were about to try in her class were sealed away in a plastic bag. The only thing this student was smelling was her positive perception. Continue reading

Redefining Success: How I did NOT work over Christmas Break


I have these monthly calls to check-in with the Iowa FoodCorps fellow, Marlie Wilson. Our December call was smashed into the sliver of time between those restless moments before winter break and the seemingly endless expanse of holiday madness that is winter break. During our call, I was driving from my service site in Oelwein to my hometown, Iowa City. Marlie and I chatted about the typical stuff: short term and long term goals, how I was feeling, general updates etc. “My January is going to be pretty crazy as I’m teaching an afterschool program series three days a week at the Middle School, presenting to the school board and county Master Gardeners, organizing an official Garden Committee for the district, and teaching my typical nutrition lessons. I’m planning to put in a bunch of hours over the next few weeks of break to get everything planned before getting back to school in the New Year,” I shared. My thought here was ‘set yourself up for success’. Continue reading

A Very Long Thank You Note

Welcome to my post-holiday slump of a blog post. I have this sort of beehive-sounding buzz building in my brain since attempting to get back into the school groove this week. Maybe I ate too much turkey. Maybe I did not eat enough pie (which is entirely not possible considering the amount of pie I ate). Whatever it is, it does not feel nice. Last New Years, I made a resolution to “TURN IT AROUND”! For me, “turning it around” is a commitment to finding, and even sometimes forcing into existence, the positivity in all situations. So, here I sit in my office meditating on the words “turn it around”. This holiday season I will not be overtaken by the bee-buzz in my brain. With every word I type, may the buzz be ever gone from my being. Continue reading

Vegetable Anarchy

I started my year of FoodCorps service this past September: Guns Blazing. I am a determined individual plagued by prescription-strength, rose-colored glasses, so I started work in September predicting that I would change the world by the end of the school year. My plan was to bring the gospel of real food to the students of Oelwein so they could grow up to live healthfully ever after. Then, about three weeks into my work, I had a long and serious meeting with reality. This work is a constant waltz of down, up, up…down, up, up (think one step back for every two steps forward). For every fruit or vegetable I get the 3rd graders on board with trying, there are birthday and holiday treats, sugary ‘juice’, and the fast food from their favorite drive-thru to compete with, and let me tell you that it is not a competition. When offered asparagus or a cheeseburger, the 3rd grader will pick the cheeseburger with almost complete certainty. Still, I’m a Taurus. Regardless of your level of belief in the relationship between cosmic phenomenon and one’s personality, I am a bull through and through, strong-willed with endless determination. Standing face to face with the prospect of limitless cheeseburgers, I simply rear my horns. Continue reading