Community Food Systems Annual Event

Our Community Food Systems Program began hosting an annual event in 2015. Held in winter, this daylong event lifts up best practices around the nation within all areas of community food systems. Come learn, engage, and discuss ways to promote community engagement, collective action, and food systems projects including edible landscapes, food hubs, shared-use kitchens, and more.

This gathering is meant to build up our partners and promote collaboration, sharing and networking for creative and collaborative projects.

Come learn about others’ good work, and share your experiences and projects through the lightning round and poster session. There will be plenty of time for open space for dialogue and brainstorming.

Click on the tabs below to see information on this year’s event, and presentations and other resources from past annual events.


Save the date!

Mark your calendar for the 6th Annual ISU Community Food Systems Event on Friday, February 12, 2021! Due to COVID-19, this event will take place entirely online.

This year’s event will focus on Retail and Leadership within Community Food Systems, lifting up best practices around the nation in all community food systems areas. Come learn, engage, and discuss ways to promote community engagement, collective, action, and food systems projects.

We are accepting workshop proposals through October 16. Learn more and find submission instructions here.

Local Food Leader and Iowa Retail Initiative Champions workshops will be offered in person (with appropriate distancing) at the ISU Memorial Union on Friday, February 5. Registration for all events will open soon.

Need more information? Contact Bre Miller at


The 5th ISU Community Food Systems Annual Event took place January 9 and 10, 2020, at the West Des Moines Marriott. Two pre-conference workshops were offered on January 9: a Local Food Leader workshop, and a Business Model Canvas workshop.

People sitting at tables working.

The community food systems event on January 10 featured a keynote from Samantha Schaffstall of USDA’s Ag Marketing Service, 9 breakouts and poster session presentations.

The 2020 theme was Food Entrepreneurship and Inclusive Partnerships. #CFS20

2020 sponsors

IA AEYC logo.
No More Empty Pots logo.


Our 2019 Community Food Systems Program annual event took place Friday, March 29, at the Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center, 5000 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines.

Keynote speakers included Sommer Sibilly-Brown of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, Inc., and Arthur Neal, Jr., of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Workshop topics ran the gamut from developing curriculum to teaching through the arts to using GIS mapping to assist in the development of community food systems.

Click the links below to access resources and videos from the conference.


Speaker bios


Video: Sommer Sibilly-Brown’s keynote, “Capacity Building” (40 min.)

Video: 10-state panel of food systems advocates discussing certification program pilot (45 min.)

Video: Arthur Neal, Jr.’s keynote, “What’s Happening in Local Foods?” (28 min.)

Video: Mapping and Technology panel session (45 min.)

Video: Food Systems Curriculum and Certification panel session (1 hr. 49 min.)