We are a group of community activists who donate fresh produce to low-income families.
Local Foods Connection’s mission is to enhance eastern Iowa’s sustainable food system by making it more accessible to families and individuals with limited means. We aim to increase the opportunities for these community members to enjoy fresh, healthy food, connect with local farmers, and expand their skills and knowledge of cooking and nutrition. Since 1999, Local Foods Connection has purchased produce, bread, eggs, meat and other products from local earth-friendly farms and has donated these goods to families who cannot afford such nutritious, tasty and fresh food. We provide opportunities for families to visit a farm and to learn healthy cooking methods. With your support, we assist families in need of a helping hand, strengthen our local foods network and empower the farmers who serve our community. Our vision is a local sustainable food system that is accessible to everyone.
Local Foods Connection works with families who, throughout a four- to five-month period, are committed to preparing good, healthy meals using our donated produce. We partner with local social service organizations and medical offices, such as The Arc of Southeast Iowa and Family Resource Center at public schools, to find families who care about what they eat and the environment in which they live. Our families include single mothers, immigrants, the elderly, racial minorities and people with exceptional medical needs.
According to the United Way of Johnson County’s 2010 Community Assessment, 6.6% of all families in Johnson County are living in poverty. Of female-headed single parent households, 30% are in poverty. Since 2000, the number of seniors in poverty has risen 63% and the rate of poverty among children has increased by 40%. Limited household income can hinder access to healthy foods.
Social Service Agencies
Social service agencies can be enrolled in our program too! The Johnson County Women, Infants and Children office (WIC), the Iowa City Head Start at HACAP and the Johnson County Crisis Center Food Bank are three examples. These agencies provide the donated food to their clients by redistribution, offering educational activities or preparing healthful meals.
Our education program teaches our families about farming and healthy meal preparation, so that they can make good use of the produce they receive. By participating in activities such as reading books, taking cooking classes and sharing recipes, our families earn points that they can trade in for kitchen equipment.
Access to Local Food
Once a family or agency is accepted into Local Foods Connection, they will learn about and have access to fresh, local food. They might receive:
- credit to a booth at the Farmers Market,
- credit on a wholesale purchasing account with a farm, or
- be enrolled in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. Learn more about CSAs here: LocalHarvest.org/CSA
The food we purchase is paid for in the spring, guaranteeing farmers the income to produce their crops. In return, the farmers supply members with high-quality food throughout the growing season.
Small Family Farmers
We purchase goods from farmers who use sustainable farming practices, such as growing vegetables without chemical pesticides and raising animals in a humane environment. Farmers in Atalissa, Grinnell, Iowa City, Kalona, Mechanicsville, Riverside and Solon provide us with fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, eggs and meat.