Connecting family, community and health from a food system perspective

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This project seeks to increase the amount of locally grown food consumed by local residents by linking families to where food is grown, engaging families in facilitated parent/child foods cooking workshops, and facilitating dialogue with families, local growers and community leaders.
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Lead Investigator: 
Kimberly Greder
Lead Investigator Affiliation: 
ISU Human Development & Family Studies
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Lead Investigator Bio: 

Kimberly Greder is an associate professor in human development and family studies as well as an extension specialist at Iowa State University. Her research interests include family resiliency within a framework of understanding poverty and food insecurity, well-being of immigrant families, parenting education, and family, school and community partnerships to strengthen student achievement.

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LaVon Eblen, Harrisdale Homestead; Emily Krengel, Cass County Memorial Hospital; Ardyth Gillespie, Cornell University; Cornelia Butler Flora, Sociology

This project focused on identifying reasons why families with school-age children do or do not regularly consume locally grown foods, as well as strategies to increase consumption of locally grown foods by families.

Key Question: 

What are the perspectives of parents with school-age children in Cass County regarding locally grown foods as a regular source for their children? Which current assets in Cass County can be further mobilized to increase the consumption of locally grown foods by families with school-age children?


Focus groups and individual interviews with parents, local growers, and community leaders, as well as surveys distributed to parents helped provide answers to the project questions. Findings revealed that parents desire locally grown food, but it needs to be affordable and accessible. Many parents lack knowledge, skill and confidence on how to include locally grown foods within family snacks/meals. Involving children in growing and preparing food increases their interest in eating it. Relationships between growers and families can increase appreciation for and consumption of locally grown food. Relationships between growers and influential community leaders are key to increasing availability of locally grown food in the community.

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Staff Notes: 
<p>Should be a publication: Greder, K. and Gillette, M. Local foods and families in Cass County. Iowa State University Extension Publication, SP383a. Cannot find it online.</p>