Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig highlighted how Farm to School Month activities across the state allowed students to try locally grown foods and learn more about the farmers to raise them.
“Thousands of Iowa students had the opportunity to learn more about Iowa agriculture and try some of the fresh, delicious, locally grown products raised by our state’s farmers as part of Farm to School Month activities,” Naig said. “It is critically important we give students the opportunity to learn more about where their food comes from. I want to thank all the dedicated school food service staff and directors who help make this month’s activities such a success.”
One highlight of the month was the inaugural Iowa Local Food Day on Oct. 11. More than 170,000 students were served meals made with locally grown ingredients in nearly 150 schools as part of the day, many of which were sourced from Iowa growers and food hubs for the first time.
Naig also presented Chad Taylor, Executive Chef of Des Moines Public Schools, with a Secretary’s Ag Leader Award as part of the month’s activities. The award was in recognition of his efforts to expand the offerings of local foods in the Des Moines schools. Chef Taylor also worked with Chef Chad Elliott of Decorah on a Local Food Day Procurement Team for over a year helping guide the team in sourcing local ingredients and creating sample recipes for schools to use.
“Chef Taylor was a driving force behind this grant-based project and worked hard to make it a success. He has been a real leader in using local foods in the Des Moines Schools and served as a mentor to many other school districts as they look to expand their local offerings,” Naig said. “This award was an opportunity to celebrate and thank Chef Taylor for all his work to provide students with greater access to nutritious and delicious locally grown foods.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received a $100,000 Farm to School Support Services Grant from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) that has supported a number of Farm to School activities throughout the year. Activities have included training for growers and food service directors focused on sourcing locally grown items, partnering with Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP), and the 2018 Iowa Farm to School Conference this past June.