The Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative has brought people in northeast Iowa together to make our region a place where every day, all people have access to healthy, locally grown foods and abundant opportunities for physical activity in the places where we live, learn, work and play. We see NE Iowa as a unique place where all residents and guests experience celebrate and promote healthy locally grown food and engage in physical activity and play every day.
Picture, if you will, a region where schools, young people, and their resident partners on wellness teams lead a rebirth of rural communities that promote healthy living by all people. Schools are modeling healthy living through future-oriented policies and practices focused on eating local, healthy foods and on active living integrated throughout the school day. They buy and serve as many local foods as possible, fueling learners and the local economy. Community members use school buildings and grounds for recreation early in the morning, late in the day, and throughout the year. Young people engage adults and children in establishing the policies and practices that assure a healthy future for everyone. They organize FEEST events, preparing meals from local foods for peers and adults. Institutions and organizations throughout the region are active partners with schools and bring their resources to benefit children and adults.
Picture, if you will, communities where all children get a healthy start from birth and come to school ready to learn. Parents of children from birth to five prepare healthy food, engage with their children in active living, and expect their childcare providers and preschools to do the same. When their children reach school-age parents are ready to join school wellness teams. Parents are a force for health on behalf of all children. Organizations and programs that serve the youngest children collaborate to assure that community culture and structures support health and well-being.
Picture, if you will, a regional food system that is economically vibrant and growing. Farmers choose to work through the local food hub to assure that together they can meet commercial and institutional needs, while also assuring that every resident has access to affordable, healthy food. Local entrepreneurs are supported in establishing processing and storage facilities, and other value-added businesses, that make local food available all year round and attractive to buyers. We are nurturing a generation of new farmers. The number of farmers growing local food is expanding to meet growing needs. At the same time, leaders in the local food system have creatively implemented structures that assure community members with limited financial resources can afford to eat what is grown close to home.
Picture, if you will, a region where people of all ages walk, bike, and recreate in an abundant natural environment and in small towns. Adults accompany young people as they walk and bike to school. Whenever possible people use active transportation to get to work. Parks and waterways are alive with activity year-round. People are drawn to county and community parks through family active living programs. Young people lead events throughout the region that bring people together for fun runs, community walks, and other activities.
Picture, if you will, a six-county collaborative in which people of every income, age, ethnicity, race, education, and walk of life provide leadership together for creating a regional culture of health and well-being. In Northeast Iowa we work together because we believe healthier people make stronger families and vibrant communities. We make the healthy choice the easy choice. Together we grow healthy kids.
If you have pictured all that we do, you see the future we are creating in the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. Join us.