Catherine: What’s going on with Farm to School in Iowa, and in Iowa City specifically?
Brandi: In Iowa, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Education partner to coordinate statewide Farm to School efforts. In 2007, state funding was granted to Farm to School to support local efforts around the state. These funds have been distributed as start-up funds for new Farm to School chapters in Iowa and as grants for various projects at the local level.
The Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) Farm to School Chapter started in 2010 as a project of Field to Family. (This organization is a nonprofit working to promote local foods; I am on the board of directors.) Now the ICCSD Farm to School Chapter works closely with both Field to Family and the ICCSD Food Service staff on a variety of projects. For example, ICCSD Farm to School organizes “Farmer Fairs” twice each year in area elementary schools. These in-school field trips bring growers and nutrition educators into schools to give presentations, lead hands-on activities like seed planting, and have students taste-test local foods. Additionally, the ICCSD Farm to School chapter has offered support for school gardens around the district. There are currently fifteen active school gardens spread throughout the district’s twenty-five schools, and at least one provides produce directly to a school kitchen. Finally, Farm to School has helped facilitate purchasing local food for use in school lunches. Products include local apples, watermelon, lettuce, and sweet potatoes.
Catherine: Where can people learn more?
Brandi: There are lots of great Farm to School resources out there; here are a few:
The US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/f2s/
The National Farm to School Network, at http://www.farmtoschool.org/
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Farm to School Program, at http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/AgDiversification/farmToSchoolProgram.asp
Field to Family, at http://www.fieldtofamily.org/programs/farm-to-school/