Support Is Available for Food Systems Leaders amid COVID-19

Farmers, food businesses, cities, schools and others can receive technical support

May 12, 2020, 8:23 am | Chelsea Krist

AMES, Iowa – Local and regional food systems that are looking for technical support during the COVID-19 pandemic should consider the resources being provided by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

mulching a garden with straw.The Food System Team within ISU Extension and Outreach’s Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program is providing technical assistance on a wide variety of topics, with short- and long-term help available.

An online form is being sent out to interested parties, according to Chelsea Krist, Iowa Farm to School coordinator with FFED. The form asks people to share their technical assistance needs, so they be connected with staff who can provide assistance on a variety of projects.

Institutions and organizations, including farmers, food businesses, cities, schools, state agencies and nonprofits, are encouraged to share their needs for food systems engagement in regards to COVID-19, or other ongoing efforts.

Support areas could include community food systems support and facilitation, farm to school procurement strategies and student education, or particular farm and food business technical assistance regarding design or strategic planning.

Support can range from quick, one-time consultations, to intermediate and long-term support. Examples include the following:

  • Connecting with Iowa food system networks and specialists.
  • Strategizing, brainstorming and problem solving.
  • Food system-based research and assessments, including data interpretation and evaluation.
  • Technical assistance for community food systems projects, including conceptual design development, project management, etc. 
  • Supporting coalition development, which may include facilitation support, developing or refocusing a coalition.
  • Creating a design or community outreach plan for a school or community garden.
  • Direct to consumer or mid-tier market development support including sourcing and purchasing local food into a meal program at a school or early care site, or supporting a farmer to find new opportunities for direct market opportunities.
  • Understanding impacts and identifying local/national best practices for food systems.

COVID-19 response projects will be prioritized at this time, according to Krist. Based on the scope of the project proposal, free consultations may be available while more in-depth and long-term projects may involve the development of a fee for service agreement.

For questions or more information on this effort, contact Krist at


Original photo: Mulching with straw.

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