Thanks to all who attended the Farm to School Benefit at Rapid Creek Cidery on November 28, 2017! At the benefit last Tuesday, we got hear from the Iowa City school’s Nutrition Services Director Alison Demory and Procurement Specialist, Cynthia Smith about their partnership with Field to Family to source local-grown food for the school lunch menu (video can be seen here). More highlights were posted on our Facebook page. We can’t thank Rapid Creek Cidery’s owner Katie Goering and Chef Matt Steigerwald enough for their support for Farm to School and Field to Family’s work. They went above and beyond to provide attendees with a delicious and outstanding experience with all proceeds going towards our work. Plus, several farmers contributed to the meal including Organic Greens, Abbe Hills Farm, Muddy Miss Farm, Millet Seed Farm and Wilson’s Orchard with additional donations from The Local Crumb and Old Capitol Tofu.

The Iowa City Community School District Chapter started in 2010 as a Field to Family program; there are 27 total chapters across the state.
As explained at the event, our Farm to School program partners with the ICCSD Nutrition Services Director and Procurement Specialist to source local food for the school lunch menu.
In 2016 & 2017, that included:
Sweet Potatoes from Organic Greens
Apples from Wilson’s Orchard
Cherry tomatoes from Friendly Farm and Muddy Miss
Zucchini from Organic Greens, LLC and Buffalo Ridge
Cucumbers from Organic Greens, LLC
Peppers from Organic Greens, LLC
Cantaloupe from Stout Market
Watermelon from Stout Market

Pounds of locally grown food purchased by ICCSD per year: 44,196 total!

The goals of Farm to School are to:
* Support school gardens in Johnson County in order to teach kids where their food comes from, encourage kids to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and to provide gardening experience.
* Increase the amount of fresh, local food that students eat.
* Increase the number of students in the ICCSD who receive lessons and hands-on activities teaching the components of a healthy and sustainable community food system.

Our projects include:
* We host an annual School Garden Workshop & publish an annual assessment;
* Hold educational workshops called “Farmer Fairs” in schools and in the community;
* Procure local food for school lunches- increasing 5% annually; promote locally-sourced items in school lunchrooms and to the public.

Since the chapter was established, we have held 6 school garden workshops, hosted 14 Farmer Fairs at 12 elementary schools and procured nearly 50,000 pounds of food from local farmers for school lunches!

While we are proud of what we have accomplished, we still have many unmet needs. We had hoped to expand our Farm to School educational programming this year, but was denied a federal grant that would have allowed us to do that. We require ongoing funding to host Farmer Fairs and our annual school garden workshop. However, we are continuing on and working to grow what we have started with your support! If you know of others who believe in this program and its importance to continue, please spread the word that donations are needed- small and large. Volunteers are also needed for all of our programs and sometimes we need help transporting large amounts of freshly harvested food across town. Find more information about our Farm Stands in Food Deserts and Local Food Finder programs on our website and you can donate here. Thank you again for your support!

Michelle Kenyon
Program Director, Field to Family