Farm to School and Early Care

Farm to School and Early Care increases 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.

Farm to School and Early Care

Farm to school and early care enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care sites. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school and early care site gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. Farm to school and early care empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. 

Farm to school and early care implementation varies by community but always includes one or more of the following:

  • Procurement: Local foods are purchased, promoted and served at mealtimes, as a snack or taste-test.
  • Garden: Students engage in hands-on learning through on-site gardening.
  • Education: Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health, or nutrition.

Why Farm to School and Early Care?

Kids Win

Farm to school and early care provides all kids access to nutritious, high-quality, local food so they are ready to learn and grow. Farm to school and early care activities enhance classroom education through hands-on learning related to food, health, agriculture and nutrition.

Farmers Win

Farm to school and early care can serve as a significant financial opportunity for farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors and food manufacturers by opening doors to an institutional market worth billions of dollars.

Communities Win

Farm to school and early care benefits everyone from students, teachers and administrators to parents and farmers, providing opportunities to build family and community engagement. Buying from local producers and processors creates new jobs and strengthens the local economy.

 

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A child holds a seedling to be planted in a garden
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A group of children holding fresh veggies
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A child looks at freshly harvested raspberries

Program Areas

Learn more about each of the primary farm to school and early care program areas.

Local foods are purchased, promoted and served at mealtimes, as a snack or taste-test.

Students engage in hands-on learning through on-site gardening.

Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health, or nutrition.

View our 2023 Iowa Farm to Early Care Education Awards Success Story!

Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition

Visit the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Network website for all resources, grants and projects, and events. 

Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Network

 

Coalition Structure and Goals

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. Horizontal leadership within the coalition embeds sustainability, cross-organizational partnership, and statewide reach into the coalition’s structure.

Our co-chairs coordinate general support, facilitate meetings and lead evaluation of the coalition activities and projects. Three strategy teams, composed of coalition members and coordinated by representatives from several state agencies and organizations, bring the coalition’s goals to life by providing focused space for work on key issues and projects. Strategy teams meet monthly and the coalition meets bi-monthly. 

The initiatives of the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition serve a broad statewide network of stakeholders- schools, early care sites, local farmers and food hubs, nonprofits, and community organizations- and generate movement around growing support for farm to school and early care in Iowa.

Coalition 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.

Chelsea Krist

Contact Chelsea for information or assistance with Farm to School programming.

Krista Smith

Contact Krista for information or assistance with Farm to Early Care programming.

Teresa Wiemerslage

Contact Teresa for information or assistance on local food procurement.