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Reynolds, Naig to Join Iowa Schools Celebrating Local Food Day
Iowa Ag Connection - 10/10/2019

Iowans will celebrate the second annual statewide Local Food Day on Oct. 11, as part of National Farm to School Month.

Iowa Local Food Day will bring together all sectors of farm to school. The goals are to:

- provide a strong support network,

- aid food service directors in procuring local foods,

- engage more growers in growing and selling to schools,

- help growers ramp up school sales by working on a smaller scale with summer food service programs,

- allow farm to school activities to expand beyond fruits and vegetables, and

- raise awareness of farm to school across the state.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach's Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Program is one of the partners in the project. Iowa Farm to School Day is funded by a United States Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

"For Iowa Local Food Day, participating K-12 school districts in Iowa will be serving menus featuring Iowa local ingredients, said Tammy Stotts, of IDALS' Farm to School Program. "This year we are including colleges and universities and early childcare centers."

To participate, schools must serve at least two locally sourced items for breakfast or lunch. Local foods can include produce, meat, eggs and dairy (except milk). Participation can be a single school or all schools within a district.

Teresa Wiemerslage, farm to school field specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, said more than 40 districts will participate in Iowa Local Food Day.

They will serve 80,000 lunches and 9,700 breakfasts, featuring more than 20 different locally sourced fruits and vegetables, dairy, meats and grains.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will participate in Iowa Local Food Day Oct. 11. Gov. Kim Reynolds will join Naig for breakfast at 8 a.m. at Cornell Elementary School in Des Moines before signing the official Iowa Local Food Day Proclamation.

"Iowa Local Food Day highlights the importance of connecting the farmers who grow the food with the communities that enjoy it," said Naig. "I look forward to meeting the students at Saydel and the farmers who grow the food being served. The state of Iowa is a leader in agriculture production yet we often find gaps between the farms and local food service. The Governor's Proclamation and the school districts celebrating Local Food Day will draw attention to the importance of eating fresh, locally-grown food."

Ninety-eight percent of Saydel School District's food service menu is grown by local farmers on Local Food Day. Other schools have taken note and followed their lead. Chefs and foodservice directors at participating schools have connected with Iowa dairies, growers and livestock farmers in order to find the fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs and other items that will be served.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship works with the Iowa Department of Education and many partners across the state to support the connection between Iowa farmers and schools. Iowa Local Food Day was established in 2018 with support from a $100,000 Farm to School Support Services Grant. Since that time this event has expanded to include universities and early childcare as well. Some of the projects, such as the Farm to Summer Program, will continue well into the future.

The Iowa Farm to School program, housed within the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, partners with the Healthiest State Initiative. This encourages Iowans to participate in the 5-2-1-0 program by eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks each day to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

To see which schools are participating in Iowa Local Food Day or learn more about this event, visit www.iowalocalfoodday.org or email info@iowalocalfoodday.org.

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