FoodCorps in Northeast Iowa

Locally, Food Corps members build upon the work in the region promoting access to healthy local foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity started by the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.  FFI is one of nine national sites funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Community program, which invests in community-driven policy and system change projects.

Meet two members who are working in Northeast Iowa:

Leah Chapman

Leah Chapman’s food revolution happened inside a University of Florida classroom, during Dr. Whitney Sanford’s seminar, Religion and Environmental Movements in the Global South. “This course changed me as a person,” Leah says. “I became extremely interested in global environmental issues, especially contemporary issues of food and agriculture and how privatization of food disproportionately affects poor and marginalized peoples.” Since then, Leah has been heavily involved in helping her alma mater get access to healthy, sustainable food. She served as UF’s CSA Program Coordinator, worked to develop a campus-wide composting plan, and built upon a Farm to School program for UF’s dining halls by sourcing 30% of dining hall food from local farms.

Leah now serves with FoodCorps in Decorah, Iowa, where she works with more than 20 schools throughout six rural counties to help develop and maintain school gardens and educate students, teachers and service staff about the benefits of consuming real food. Leah also hosts wellness workshops and teaches audiences about Farm to School activities.

You can read more about Leah in this piece in The Jewish Daily Forward.

Stephanie Conant 

Stephanie Conant comes from an intersection of agriculture and academics: her grandfather was a professor of Soil Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and her father is a professor of Political Science at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. By combining these two areas, Stephanie has discovered the field of food policy: her father taught her to be engaged in community-building and social justice issues, while her grandfather showed her a love for agriculture and farming. Additionally, her mother shared with her the importance of having good food to eat, where it comes from, and how it affects your health. The synthesis was reflected in Stephanie’s application to college: her essay promoted food as humanity’s universal language.

With FoodCorps, Stephanie is teaching this language to kids in more than 20 schools throughout 6 counties in Iowa. She is helping develop and maintain school gardens, and educate students, teachers and service staff about the benefits of consuming real food. She is also hosting wellness workshops and teaching audiences about Farm to School activities.