Food Systems

Our Food Systems Team supports the development of thriving local food systems statewide, in partnership with county extension staff and many other community collaborators.


Programs and Services

A multi-phased, multi-year program that partners with communities to develop and design their local and regional food system.

Increases access to locally-grown food and food educations for children and families by building cross-sector partnerships to advance programs and policies in schools, early care settings, and the food system.

Nationally-recognized food systems certifications that teach foundational competencies and skills critical for successful food systems development in communities. 

A young child waters a garden


“Design assistance from the Food Systems team helped us strengthen our relationships with local schools. They helped our partner schools visualize all the possibilities for implementing farm to school, and make a decision that was right for their needs.”

- Kate Olson, Program Manager, Cass County Extension

Annual Events

The Community Food Systems + Farm to School and Early Care Conference is an annual event hosted by the Food Systems Team. This conference supports our partners, promotes collaboration, education, networking, and creativity for collaborative food systems and farm to school and early care projects in communities. 

The ISU Local Food Festival is an annual celebration of local food and healthy living. This event centers around incorporating local foods into your daily meals, empowering healthy lifestyles, and sustainability-focused activities to engage students, faculty and staff to make connections with Ames and nearby communities. 

Iowa Local Food Day coincides with the National Farm to School Month in October and celebrates local foods in schools and early care sites. We have designated the fourth Wednesday of September as Iowa Local Food Day to kick-off the celebration!

About our Team

Our Clients

We serve community coalitions, educators, non-profits, county extension staff, and farm and food businesses across Iowa.

Our Goals

  • Elevate equity in the food system through practice and dialogue
  • Support the growth of viable farm and food businesses
  • Increase access to nutritious and culturally relevant foods
  • Support food systems communities of practice and leadership opportunities
A farmer holds a sprout
A customer purchases fresh radishes at a farmers market

Our Values

  • Equity by working to maintain a truthful and transparent communication and interpretation with partners and communities about who we are and our work, including acknowledgement of historical systems of oppression in agriculture and education. 
  • Systems Thinking by seeking connections between intersecting food system sectors, community assets and resources to enhance our food system.   
  • Collective Action by centering opportunities for collaborative work in projects and partnerships, with the intention of long-term systems change. 
  • Responsive Education by supporting educational opportunities that prioritize culturally relevant, community-owned information, in response to unique contexts and community needs.
  • Relationships + Networking by building authentic, respectful relationships with partners for shared understanding and trust.

Extension Areas

Our team has a unique placement in ISU Extension and Outreach, working in both Agriculture and Natural Resources and Community and Economic Development Extension.


Learn more about how each of these areas are Building a #StrongIowa.

Contact Info

The Food Systems Team is managed by Courtney Long

(515) 461-3227

Food Systems Team

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Food Systems Program Manager
(515) 460-3227
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Education Extension Specialist I
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Education Extension Specialist II
(515) 294-1854
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Communications Specialist II
(515) 294-3086
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Business Administrator I - Agriculture
(515) 294-0648
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Farm to Early Care and Education Coordinator
(515) 491-6740