Planting seeds for lifelong nutrition

Writer: Madeline Cisneros

Sometimes it helps to have a snappy title. This year’s Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign is called “Snap for Snap Peas!” — after “Root for Radishes!” last year and “Let Us Eat Lettuce!” in 2022.

“Students who participate in the campaign have fun learning about agriculture, food production and healthy eating habits while also developing connections with area farmers,” said Mike Naig, secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

In 2018, the department received a $100,000 grant for its general Farm to School program, which includes the Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign, a project the department launched in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Education, FoodCorps Iowa and an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach initiative called Farm, Food and Enterprise Development.

Participating sites, including schools and child care centers, receive a stipend to buy local produce and seed packets that students can plant. Participants also receive technical assistance and campaign tool kits, such as banners and posters, to promote the project in the community.

“We’re in the breadbasket of the United States, and we have children who don’t understand where their food comes from,” said Sherri Sciarrotta, who coordinates the Des Moines Area Community College’s Child Development Center, which participated in last year’s “Root for Radishes” campaign. “If we can expose children to healthy food choices and have them be part of the process and understand the process, it’s just so impactful.”

The child development center uses grant money to buy locally sourced food and materials for its own garden, which DMACC students who work at the center oversee. The center hosts tasting parties throughout the year to teach kids about produce.

“Because the Farm to School program benefits students and schools as well as farmers and producers, I’d invite interested schools and early care centers to apply to participate in the ‘Snap for Snap Peas’ campaign,” Naig said.

Applications opened in April. For details, visit

Iowa Stops Hunger is an ongoing Business Publications Corp. initiative to raise awareness about food insecurity in Iowa and inspire action to combat it.

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