Teresa Wiemerslage is the Regional Extension Program Coordinator at ISU Extension. She is also a project coordinator of the Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition (NIFF), which promotes opportunities for existing and new producers to engage in the local food system, and serves on the Iowa Food System Working Group steering committee. She has an M.S. in plant pathology from Iowa State University.
New nutrition regulations for student meals spurred a project to help schools use more Iowa-grown products with the creation of a seasonal, cycle menus. Utilizing cycle menus, training students in cafeteria coaching, and access to a local food hub yielded good results for several northeast Iowa schools.
Can a cycle menu featuring Iowa-grown foods lead to increased local food purchases by Iowa public schools?
Yes, incorporating Iowa-grown foods into a cycle menu for schools is an effective way for schools to increase their local food use. Schools use the most local food from August through October. However, Iowa products with a more consistent supply such as yogurt, eggs or meat, or frozen produce can be used the entire school year.