Allamakee County Community Foundation supports Iowa Food Hub
It takes a village to feed a community, and that’s been especially true in 2020. As schools, daycares, and Allamakee County communities continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Iowa Food Hub keeps working to connect schoolchildren with fresh food from local farmers.
The Allamakee County Community Foundation helped further that mission with a $10,000 grant toward the purchase of a refrigerated delivery truck for the Food Hub. During the 2019-20 school year, the Food Hub rented refrigerated trucks to make its weekly deliveries. That arrangement meant limited and inconsistent availability to make additional deliveries and provide on-farm pickups for farmers. The new truck, purchased in August, will allow the Food Hub to add more routes and serve more customers in northeast Iowa.
“Our truck has already helped with farm-to-school logistics this fall,” said Teresa Wiemerslage, Food Hub advisor. “Because of the new CARES Act funding, we are seeing increased interest from schools outside our regular service area for deliveries during October Farm to School month, including Dubuque and Western Dubuque schools. Having our own truck will help us deliver products from northeast Iowa farms to those schools.”
October is National Farm to School month. The Food Hub is celebrating by promoting Iowa Local Food Day and asking schools to sign up to participate in serving local foods. During October, students and families should check school menus to see what local foods are being served.
“Some schools will serve products from local farms; others will serve from their school gardens,” said Wiemerslage. “Farm to School month is about connecting kids to the farms and farmers in their community.” Learn more at iowalocalfoodday.org.
In spite of school closures this spring, the Food Hub continued to operate according to the school’s emergency feeding protocols using grab-and-go meals. When the pandemic forced the Decorah Farmer’s Market to shut down for the first part of the summer, the Food Hub launched an innovative online marketplace to facilitate purchasing, delivery and curbside pick-up.
Sponsored by Allamakee New Beginning, the Food Hub has delivered $300,000 worth of food to local schools and facilitated $2.37 million in income to over 100 regional farmers and small businesses since launching in 2012.
“Schools are an extremely hard market for individual farmers to service,” said Wiemerslage. “Research and experience have shown that food hubs are the critical partner to get local foods into schools. In many cases, the food hub is the only source of local foods for schools.” Farmers interested in selling products to schools should contact the school, get listed in the Iowa Farm to School directory, or contact a food hub.
“We prioritize capacity-building for nonprofits like the Food Hub, and their mission touches so many families — from supporting our local farmers to feeding our local youth,” said Erin Iverson, board chair. “The Foundation is proud to support the Iowa Food Hub.”
Above, Peter Kraus uses the new refrigerated truck to deliver watermelons to schools.