Spotlight on Kelli Anders, Wapello County LFC

October 11, 2019

Our spotlight this month is on Kelli Anders, local food coordinator with Wapello County Extension and Outreach in Ottumwa.


What do you do as a local food coordinator?

As a new member to the staff, I am always learning something new about my position every day. So far since the end of April when I started, I have partnered with our FoodCorps members in conducting garden classes during the summer with children who are in a daycare setting at our schools called PTYC (Prime Time Youth Care).

The children choose to sign up for the class on a daily basis; it is not chosen for them. On most days we had very good numbers. The kids learned gardening care and maintenance, planting and harvesting, and as much as possible our snack for the class came from our onsite school garden.

I also assistant our Produce with a Purpose staff member to find local, reasonably priced fresh fruits and vegetables for our bi-weekly local food box program. This program is funded by a grant from the USDA. Customers sign up for the whole season or month by month for a $15 box filled with locally grown food, picked within two days of delivery. I also conduct a cooking class with our NEST (parenting program) families.

Three women holding cardboard cutouts of animals.
Kelli Anders (center) attended the 2019 National Direct Agriculture Marketing Summit in Rosemont, Illinois. At left is Hilary Lansman, coordinator of Produce with a Purpose. At right is Sue Henderson, director of ISU Extension and Outreach Region 19.

How long have you been in the job, and what’s your background?

I started this position on April 23, 2019. I had no background other than some basic garden skills. I also have raised and worked with children as a service unit leader and troop leader with Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa. I had knowledge of the programs from being a 4H family for seven years, but did not know the depths. I have learned so much and am still learning every day.

What are some of your favorite local-foods-related projects, past or present?

One of my favorite projects was being able to attend a local school’s Latino Freedom Festival Fundraiser as a Pick a Better Snack educator. I handed out a healthy snack of cucumbers and a spice bar to season them with.

What new projects or directions are looking forward to?

Our Produce with a Purpose grant ends in September 2020. Although we have been very successful with the food box program, we are looking at what’s next. We want to keep consumers and producers in touch with each other after our program ends. Maybe that is building up local farmers markets or coming up with a way to deliver locally grown foods closer to the consumer.

I am very excited to hit the ground running after just returning from the 2019 National Direct Agriculture Marketing Summit in Rosemont, Illinois. We returned with a whole head full of new ideas and initiatives.

What do you love most about your job?

The part I love the most about my job is walking into the classrooms to conduct a Pick a Better Snack lesson. The kids’ faces light up and they start saying, “The Snack Lady is here!!” It’s amazing to know that on my bi-monthly visits they are happy to see me and enjoy our time together.

We learn about choosing healthier snacks, read books, do taste tests, vote, and do brain breaks. And they learn why the snack I bring is a healthier choice to eat than the stuff they might generally munch on.

What’s your favorite local food?

Hands down my favorite local food is good old Iowa-grown sweet corn. To cook my corn, I use the normal boil-in-a-large pan method, except I put some milk in the water and a stick of REAL butter. No substitutes when it comes to Iowa sweet corn. DELICIOUS!!!

Recipe:

  1. Use a large stock pot that will hold all the ears of corn you are cooking, whether you leave them whole or break them in half.
  2. Add enough water to cover ears but not too full; you will need to add 1 to 2 cups of milk, depending on the size of your pot. Add the stick of butter and boil until cooked—about 10-15 minutes depending on your pot size and ear count.
  3. When done, turn the heat off, pull ears from pot and get ready to serve. Add extra butter if you wish and salt to taste. You will notice this method doesn’t allow the corn to become so water-logged. You will still have some water retention but not as much as you’re used to if you use just plain water.

Contact Kelli at kjander@iastate.edu or call (641) 682-5491.