Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Network
Farm to school and early care enriches the connection communities have with fresh, local food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices in schools and early care settings. Through gardening, farm field trips, hands-on cooking, food education, and local sourcing to school cafeterias and early learning sites, this movement strengthens the local economy and contributes to vibrant communities.
This statewide network was established in January 2020 with the merging of the Iowa Farm to School Coalition and Iowa Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition. Individuals and organizations leading or participating in farm to school and early care initiatives are encouraged to engage in the network through:
- Subscribing and/or contributing to our weekly newsletter (view past newsletters here (beginning 6-26-19) and here (prior to that)).
- Participating in the annual Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Conference
- Connecting with the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition (details below).
The Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition
Mission: Increase access to locally-grown food and food education for children and families by building cross-sector partnerships to advance programs and policies in schools, early care settings, and the food system.
Vision: Farm to school and early care programs in Iowa are rooted in just and strong local and regional food systems, ensuring the health and wellness of all children and families, the strength of family farms, and the resilience of our communities.
Comprised of more than 15 organizations, the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition brings together a dedicated group of farm to school and early care stakeholders who collaboratively work toward shared goals:
- Grow and strengthen our statewide network to increase communication and collaboration
- Increase local food purchasing in schools and early care sites
- Incorporate culturally relevant food education into existing policy, environments, and curriculum
Our Core Values
The statewide Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition supports and upholds the following values:
- Education: We value the voice and leadership of youth and educators; we support a comprehensive sequence of nutrition and food literacy from birth through 12th grade.
- Equity: We acknowledge and understand historical systems of oppression and inequity that exist in food systems and education; we support culturally responsive and reflective resources and practices.
- Access: We support policies and programs that increase equitable access to and awareness of local food, food education, and all farm to school and early care initiatives.
- Transparency: We value authentic and respectful communication and feedback with partners and community members; we maintain clear, coordinated communication systems with partners and communities about who we are and what we work to accomplish.
- Relationships and Collaboration: We center opportunities to build meaningful relationships with communities and stakeholders, developing shared understanding, language, and goals.
- Respect: We identify diversity as strength; we acknowledge and celebrate that we come together with personal experience, perspective, culture, and community.
For more information about the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Network and Coalition, contact coalition co-chairs:
For information about the Farm to School Makes Cents: For Iowa Kids and Farmers grant project, click here.
National Farm to School Network
Since 2017, the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development (FFED) Program has been the National Farm to School Network Iowa Core Partner, providing new opportunities to expand efforts to connect children to local food, school gardens and food and agriculture education around the state.
The National Farm to School Network is the leading voice for the US farm to school and farm to early care and education movement, providing information, advocacy and networking for communities working to bring local food sourcing, school gardens, and food and agriculture education into school systems and early care and education settings.
As the Iowa Core Partner, FFED serves as a liaison of information, resources, and opportunities with the National Farm to School Network, in collaboration with these supporting partners:
- FoodCorps Iowa
- Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
- Iowa Department of Education
Learn more about Iowa initiatives and how you can support efforts in your community by viewing a webinar hosted by our program here.
Program coordinator Chelsea Krist is your point of contact.
Please see our extensive list of resources at the bottom of this page for more information and assistance.
Sourcing Local Meats (guide for providers)
Human Sciences Extension and Outreach – Christine Hradek
Iowa Regional Food System Working Group (RFSWG) – local food coordinator directory
Research and Grant Reports
Impacts of the Local Produce and Protein Program on the Iowa Food Hub Managers Working Group (February 2021)
Executive summary | Full report
Readiness to Increase Local Procurement (Specialty Crop Block Grant report, 2019)
Fresh Innovation: Testing Fresh Processed Products to Increase Food Hub to Early Childcare Sales (Leopold Center grant report, 2018)
Iowa recipients of USDA Farm to School Grants (2013 to date)
Iowa Department of Education:
- Iowa Farm to School Program page
- K-12 nutrition programs page
- Local district wellness policy info page
Iowa Farm to School Program (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship)
Iowa Farm to Summer Program (Iowa Department of Education and others)
Iowa Nutrition Network – contact Suzy Wilson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Local wellness policy information (USDA Food and Nutrition Service)
The Dirt (e-newsletter from USDA Farm to School)