Speakers Announced for Community Food Systems and Farm to School and Early Care Conference

Three days of food systems education and networking in central Iowa

May 15, 2023, 10:12 am | Breanna Miller

WAUKEE, Iowa – The Community Food Systems Program and the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Farm, Food and Enterprise Development is hosting the first-ever Community Food Systems and Farm to School and Early Care Conference, June 15-17, in Waukee.

This collaborative, three-day event will engage, support and inspire individuals, organizations and business in all areas of the food system, and will emphasize the importance of community food systems, especially in schools and early care.

“This conference will be an amazing opportunity to celebrate and learn about the importance of our work as well as the multitude of partners we engage with,” said Courtney Long, food systems program manager with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The conference theme is "Growing a Culture of Celebration," and celebrates local foods, learning and collaboration. Topics will include:

  • Community Food Systems, Thursday, June 15
  • Site visits, farm tours and Local Foods Reception, Friday, June 16
  • Farm to School and Early Care, Saturday, June 17

Community food systems conference graphic.Lacy Stephens, agricultural marketing specialist with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, will discuss "USDA Investments and Opportunities in Local and Regional Food Systems" on Thursday, June 15. Stephens will also speak on Saturday, June 17, on the role of farm to school and farm to institution in food systems development.

The conference will include 23 breakout sessions led by a multitude of practitioners representing a wide range of key areas, including community partnerships, food access and rescue, teaching and education, and more. Session topics will range from using and understanding data in food systems research to implementing farm to school programming in your community. 

One of the goals of the conference is to promote local farm and food businesses and organizations. For the first time, the conference is dedicating an entire day to local foods. Friday, June 16, will offer unique opportunities to participate in site visits and farm tours, and eat locally sourced foods directly from the Des Moines area. Participants can register for either the full day or register for the Local Foods Reception only, which begins at 5 p.m. View the full conference agenda, including information on plenaries, breakout sessions, site visits and networking opportunities, at bit.ly/cfs-f2ec-AGENDA.

The conference is open to the public. Participants can attend the full three-day conference or select daily attendance. Registration is open through June 1.

Vendor and sponsor opportunities are also available. One-day and two-day vendor options allow promotion of your organization or business during conference exhibitions. Sponsor options range from Level 1 to Level 4 with varying benefits, including registration access, vending space and promotion throughout the three-day conference. Interested organizations and businesses can register as a vendor or sponsor.

Sponsors include:

For more information and to view the full list of sponsors, visit bit.ly/cfs-f2ec-conference.

For questions, contact Bre Miller at millerb@iastate.edu

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