Food Systems

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

Menu of Services

Community Food Systems Program. The Community Food Systems program is a multi-phased, three-year consultation and partnership with communities to develop and design their local and regional food system. The program is designed to develop trust and coalitions, research and assess existing conditions and goals of the health and food system context, and design and implement priority projects related to the coalition’s mission and vision. Services include:

  • Coalition Development: We provide review and compilation of a business feasibility study for startups, new product development, or businesses wanting to diversify into another product or marketplace. This study typically is conducted prior to developing a business plan, and in many cases serves as a foundation for development of the business plan. Outcomes include the development of a coalition, name for the group, collective mission, vision and core values, logo, and beginning brainstorming on next steps and what the coalition should do together.
  • Community Food System Assessment: Our team evaluates the existing conditions of the community-based food system sectors (production, transformation, distribution, consumption, and resource management) and how those aspects relate to community food system program values (education, policy, public health, built and natural environment, and the economy).
  • Public Input Sessions: We host a meeting to hear from residents about what food system changes they would like to see in their community. Our creative session includes visual aids and several survey questions. In addition, a Community Food Systems team member will participate in one input sessions to educate on the process.
  • Technical Assistance: Communities may have already decided on projects that fit with their coalition’s values and needs. In partnership with the Iowa State University Community Design Lab, the Community Food Systems Program offers design and technical assistance for projects ranging from market and brand promotion to landscape or building assessment and schematic design. Project examples include community gardens, public edible landscapes, urban farms, shared-use kitchens, general project management, and more.
  • Certifications: We offer two certification programs that are a combination of in-person workshops and online modules. They are: Local Food Leader: individual skill development for engagement in food systems, and; Community Food Systems: strategic process for design and development of food systems.
courtney long

Our Food Systems team is led by Courtney Long, (515) 460-3227.