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School Lunches are Changing!

Posted: August 29, 2012
For the first time in 15 years there are major changes in school lunches that will result in healthier meals for kids. What's changing? The new school meals will contain more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; low-fat or non-fat milk; and less sodium and fat. The meals will also be "right sized"– portion sizes will be based on a student's age.the school day just got healthier.

The most economical meal at school is the full meal, also called the reimbursable meal. A reimbursable meal includes at least three of the five components (meat or meat alternate, fluid milk, grains, fruits, and vegetables). One of the components must be a fruit or vegetable for the meal to count as a full meal and qualify the school to get some of the costs for the meal reimbursed.

High schools and an increasing number of middle and elementary schools have "Offer versus Serve". This helps reduce waste by not making students take food that they don't like or won't eat and also provides more choices. However, students will now be required to have 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetable on their tray for it to count as a full meal. If the tray doesn't have the fruit or vegetable component, students will be charged separately for each item on their tray (called ala carte) which is much more expensive.

Parents need to discuss lunch choices with their child so the bill for student meals isn't a surprise….or even better go to school and eat with your kids.

Schools are doing their part by offering healthier foods. Now, we need to support the effort by encouraging children to give the healthier meals a try. Here are some new resources to help educate parents and kids on the meal changes:

School Day Just got Healthier Parent Tip sheet – Key messages for parents
Building Healthy School Lunches Videos – 4 videos by the Iowa Department of Education for kids and parents
School Meals are Changing – quick guide on new lunch requirements for K-12 students

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Tour de Allamakee County (T-DAC) Bicycle Event Set for Sept 15

Posted: August 13, 2012
The second annual bike event of the Tour de Allamakee County (T-DAC) will offer cyclists a breath-taking view of scenic Northeast Iowa while pedaling through the winding roads of Allamakee County past the Yellow River during the fall foliage.  The Postville Food & Fit Team is encouraging individuals, families, and groups to get out for the day and enjoy the views while getting physical exercise.  The event is set for Saturday, Sept. 15.

Two courses have been designed to the varying cycling abilities.  Please look at the maps to decide your course of choice and indicate that choice on the registration form.  The In-town route is designed for families or beginning cyclists.   The Long-distance route is designed for novice cyclists and includes rolling hills, winding paved roads, as well as a 6-7% grade downhill run at the beginning of the course.

A Family entry fee is $45-children must be 13 and under-includes three t-shirts only.  Please fill out a separate registration form for each person and turn them in together along with the entry fee.

A Group entry fee is $75-groups are limited to five members per group and must all be registered for the same course.  Please fill out a separate registration form for each person and turn them in together along with the entry fee.

Sponsored by the Postville High School Food & Fit 4-H Team to raise funds for the Postville School District to purchase Recreational and Playground Equipment.

For more information, maps and registration visit:
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Decorah creates permits forms for boulevard gardens

Posted: August 6, 2012
The City of Decorah now has a permit form for residents with boulevard gardens.

The form was developed after city officials received a complaint about a garden at 508 Iowa Avenue.  Following the complaint, the Chief of Police inspected the garden to make sure it did not pose a traffic hazard and the City Forester inspected the garden to make sure the plants being used were appropriate species.  The garden at 508 Iowa Avenue passed both tests.

There is no fee for the boulevard garden permit.

Source:, 8/1/12

Tag: policychange
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Food and Fitness Initiative Seeking AmeriCorps Members

Posted: July 10, 2012
The Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI) has been awarded four AmeriCorps positions to serve schools and communities in northeast Iowa for one year starting Sept. 1.   The positions are valued at $115,200.

The four AmeriCorps members will join a team of enthusiastic people working in over 20 schools to promote farm to school, active kids and school wellness.  

Luther College is the host organization for the FFI AmeriCorps positions which are part of the Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise Program hosted by ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development in collaboration with Iowa's Promise and the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.  AmeriCorps members serve with youth development programs in communities across the state. Membership is open to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents age 17 and older.

AmeriCorps members will be based out of Luther College, but can live in any community in the six-county region: Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, Winneshiek.  Member housing will influence school district assignments.  Service members receive a modest living allowance, travel reimbursement and an education award which can be used for higher education tuition or loan repayment after completing a full term of service.

Continue reading to apply!

Job Description -- FFI School Resource Contact
•    With coaching, service members will become a resource for school wellness committees in three school districts.  They can expect to strengthen relationships with schools and communities regarding wellness for area youth. 
•    On the ground, service members will start or maintain school gardens in many of the communities. 
•    They will deepen the understanding for students, teachers and staff about the benefits of growing and consuming real food and being physically active. 
•    Education may take place with member as the teacher, while at other times the member will coordinate and train others to be leaders in this work.  
•    Service members will organize school-community events that showcase Farm to School/Safe Routes to School programs, develop community partnerships and build healthy families. 

Service members will be spending most of their time in their assigned schools.  Members may live in local communities or may commute from Decorah.  Positions are based at Luther College in the  Environmental Studies department where there will be a staff meeting each week.  Luther will provide a desk, computer and phone if needed.  

Applicants should posses these skills: 
-Ability to work with others
-Good communication skills
-Experience with youth
*Post-secondary degree preferred.

Review of applications begins July 20, 2012. Please submit résumé along with a letter of interest highlighting: 

What character traits and skills do you possess that make you suited to this position?

How does serving as an AmeriCorps member fit with your personal and professional goals—why do you want to be an AmeriCorps member? 

Please submit electronically to Emily Neal, Director of School Outreach at Luther College: or send hardcopy to:
Luther College
Attn: Emily Neal
700 College Drive
Decorah, IA. 52101

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Workshops set for Veterans and Other New Farmers

Posted: June 29, 2012
As with any small business, starting a farm requires thoughtful goal setting and a good grasp on basic financial management and marketing. Three "Planning for Profit: Marketing and Financial Management for New Farmers" workshops are being put on by the National Center for Appropriate Technology in Iowa during July. As interest in farming increases among returning veterans and others, the workshops will help participants:

• Clarify overall goals for starting a farm
• Set specific short, medium and long term household income goals for the farm
• Understand basic accounting concepts and practices
• Explore strategies for marketing and selling farm products through Community
Supported Agriculture, farmers markets, grocery stores, restaurants, and wholesale

The FREE workshops are funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency.  

Workshop dates
July 12, 2012:  5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Cedar Falls, Iowa. UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education
NCAT Program Specialist Terrell "Spence" Spencer will lead the workshop.
For more information or to register for this workshop, contact NCAT at 515-288-0460, email or click on the following link:

July 23, 2012: 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Decorah, Iowa. ISU Extension Office, 325 Washington Street  
NCAT Program Specialist Tammy Hinman will lead the workshop.
For more information, contact NCAT at 515-288-0460 or email
To register, call 563-382-2949 or register online by July 17.

July 24, 2012:  5:30 to 8 p.m.
Council Bluffs, Iowa. Iowa Western Community College, Dodge Hall, Room 1205
NCAT Program Specialist Tammy Hinman will lead the workshop.
For more information, contact NCAT at 515-288-0460 or email
To register, call 712-325-3255 or click on the following link:

About the presenters
Tammy Hinman has worked in the sustainable agriculture field  for more than 20 years as a farmer, with Cooperative Extension Service, and for various not-for-profit organizations. Tammy is currently a horticulture specialist with NCAT and works on projects related to beginning farmers, business planning, farmers markets, and market gardening. She also runs a small diversified vegetable and flower farm in Bozeman, Montana.

Terrell "Spence" Spencer is an NCAT livestock specialist and a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spence grows several thousand broilers per year on pasture for restaurant, retail, and individual customers in northwestern Arkansas. The family farm also sells eggs to its markets as well as vegetables produced in its high tunnel. Spence provides farmers, especially livestock producers, with information and assistance on business and financial planning for the vital early years of starting a farm. He also has a degree in Soil and Water Science.
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Local Food and Farm Initiative starts second year

Posted: June 29, 2012
The statewide Local Food and Farm Initiative (LFFI) program has received a second year of funding from the Iowa Legislature. An allocation of $75,000 was included in the agriculture and natural resources budget approved by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

Craig Chase, ISU Extension farm management specialist and interim marketing program leader at the Leopold Center, will continue as LFFI coordinator.

The program follows recommendations presented in the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan, a year-long study conducted by the Leopold Center that outlined ways for Iowa to build a stronger local food economy. In April 2012, more than 130 people attended an Iowa Local Food Summit to discuss which of the plan's recommendations should be a priority for a second year of the program, if funding was approved.

Chase said the 2011 plan offered 29 operational recommendations in six areas. Although progress has been made by a diverse group of agencies, organizations, farmers and others, he said work next year will focus on three primary areas:

  •  Business Development and Financial Assistance through development of food hubs and aggregation of production;
  •  Beginning, Transitioning and Minority Farmers, specifically incubator farms, mentoring programs and processing kitchens; and
  •  Food Incentives, particularly support for school garden programs.

Another need discussed at the summit was a central place to share information. Chase said ISU Extension and Outreach would be developing a website, blog and other communication tools as early as January 2013.

Find the LFFI program's first-year report to the Iowa legislature on the web on the Leopold Center Pubs & Papers page:

Tag: foodsystem
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Turkey River Summer Safari Begins

Posted: June 25, 2012
 The first Turkey River Recreational Corridor (TRRC) Summer Safari began over Memorial Day weekend in Clayton and Fayette counties in northeast Iowa. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, this summer-long adventure will take area residents and visitors to new and favorite places along the Turkey River valley. The outdoor safari was designed after similar events in Lincoln, Nebraska and Winneshiek County, Iowa as a way to get families outside during the summer months.

Those interested in the safari adventure can register online through the Turkey River Recreational Corridor website at  The TRRC Summer Safari was funded by a generous donation from the Clayton County Foundation for the Future grant as well as numerous contributions from area businesses and civic  organizations. In-kind support and technical assistance was also provided by the Clayton and Fayette County Conservation Boards, Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative and Northeast Iowa RC&D. If you have questions, please contact Robin Bostrom, TRRC Project Coordinator at 563-422-3070.
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Newly-revamped Farmers Market opens with bang

Posted: June 25, 2012
Rick Kramer admits he and his fellow New Hampton Farmers Market Committee members had a few anxious moments Thursday.

"We knew we had the vendors in place, but you know, you don't know if there's going to be 5 or 500 customers," he said.
They need not have worried.

New Hampton's newly-revamped Farmers Market opened its 2012 season last Thursday night, and to say opening day went well, would be ... well ... an understatement of giant proportions.

"It so exceeded our expectations," Kramer said. "We were happy. The vendors were happy. We had a ton of people. We couldn't have asked for a better day."

The committee — which also includes City Clerk Suellen Kolbet, New Hampton Economic Development Director Tammy Robinson, Chickasaw County Tourism Director Mary Prouty and Economic Development Assistant Megan Gleason began meeting last fall and made substantial changes.

The market moved from Saturday morning to Thursday afternoons, and instead of holding the market on Chestnut Street, the committee members sought and received permission from CarQuest to use its store parking lot from 4 to 6 p.m.
"CarQuest has been very easy to work with," Kramer said, "and one of the things it gave us — and we saw the result of it Thursday — was great visibility."

Kramer said vendors reported heavy sales — "one woman sold something like 40 dozen kolaches in like 40 minutes" while another vendor sold a truckload of strawberries in the market's first hour.

Source: New Hampton Tribune, 6/12/12.
Tag: foodsystem
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Local Food Directories Available

Posted: June 10, 2012
The Northeast Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter announces the 2012 Local Food Directory is now available.  The directory has been connecting consumers with direct marketing farmers for six years.  Buying local products from farmers is good for you, your family, your community and the environment.  

This year's directories were printed in a unique partnership with Inspire(d) magazine, a local publication based out of Decorah, Iowa.  Inspire(d) covers positive news in the Driftless Region – Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, and Western Wisconsin and can be picked up for free at more than 100 locations across the region.

Directories are also available online at – click on Finding Local Food. 

The Northeast Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local Chapter is part of the Northeast Iowa Food & Farm (NIFF) Coalition and the Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI).  Together, they are working to create community environments that support access to fresh, locally-grown food.  More information about these programs can be found at

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Valley cultivates healthful habits with garden project

Posted: June 10, 2012
"Take care of the land, and the land will take care of you." ~Hugh H. Bennett

Students at Valley Community School will be learning firsthand what it means to reap the benefits of a well-cared-for piece of land. A large garden was planted on school grounds last week with the help of students from preschool through fifth grade. The V-shaped planter bed is located behind the school building with a smaller one near the front entrance of the elementary.

Students spent time planning, planting, and watering last week in order to give their vegetables the right start.

The school garden was originally organized by the Valley School Wellness Team and Parents in Education (PIE) organization. Elementary principal Betsy Nefzger said the garden was planted so there would be fall vegetables to harvest. There were also items planted that can be frozen or canned for future use.
"Freshly harvested items will be used in school lunches as well as in classroom instruction," Nefzger said.

Produce from the garden will be used classrooms for to incorporate healthy lifestyles, with instruction on healthy eating, cooking and preparing, as well as for special events. The outdoor classroom space will also allow teachers to incorporate the garden into their lesson plans.

Items planted include tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, arugula, herbs, beets, potatoes, cucumbers and more.

With summer quickly approaching, volunteers from the community will help care for the garden through the "Adopt-a-Garden" program. Students are able to sign up their families to take care of the garden for a week while school is not is session.

Last week the Valley fifth-graders helped map out the garden with Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative helper Elizabeth Makarewicz. Throughout the week students in the elementary learned how to plant the different vegetables with Makarewicz's direction.

Makarewicz will be working with the school to teach students basic gardening maintenance skills and offer an optional cooking class.

As a part of Valley's 2011-12 School Wellness Action Plan, many of these opportunities include activities of both The Farm to School and Safe Routes to School programs.

"We want students to learn about living a healthier lifestyle and share their experience of growing and eating their own food. We also want to provide an opportunity for student and community partnerships," Nefzger said of the overall goals of the garden project.

Anyone wishing to help out with the garden throughout the summer months or donate money or items should contact or Betsy Nefzger, or Elizabeth Makarewicz at

Source:, Jessica Duren, May 23, 2012

Tag: schoolwellness
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