The Iowa Food Systems Council is a new nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop and recommend policy, program and research initiatives for a food system which supports healthier Iowans, families, farms and communities.
Launched in November 2010, the 17-member board of directors represents production, processing, distribution, retail and waste management sectors. The board also includes directors with expertise in public health, nutrition, food access, consumption, economics, natural resources and education. Several state government agencies hold ex-officio positions on the board.
Iowa Food Systems Council president Linda Gobberdiels says the goal is to engage representatives from all of the food system and develop new relationships to enhance and support the essential role of food in health in communities, the economy and the environment. She adds, "We can and will work to take the necessary actions in food policy, research and programming to develop and sustain an effective food system for now and future generations."
New council is a follow-up to the old Iowa Food Policy Council
The Iowa Food Systems Council is the second generation of having a food policy council for Iowa. In 2000, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack initiated an executive order to establish the Iowa Food Policy Council. Through 2006, the 21-member and governor-appointed council, administered by the Drake University Agricultural Law Center, provided numerous policy recommendations to improve the food system in Iowa, specifically on lowering food insecurity and growing local food production.
For the last two years, more than 165 stakeholders representing diverse food system sectors from across Iowa have engaged in strategic planning activities in an effort to re-establish the Iowa Food Policy Council. Financial assistance provided by W.K. Kellogg Foundation has enabled the council to transition to a member-based nonprofit organization. Fiscal administration for this effort has been provided by the Iowa Center on Health Disparities at the University of Northern Iowa.
The key to successfully launching the Iowa Food Systems Council will be cultivating relationships. Gobberdiels says, "Relationship building will be an initial focus of the Iowa Food Systems Council as we work to create a collaborative approach to ensuring a resilient, sustainable and secure food system for Iowa. We will actively learn from other state food policy councils and work toward improving the health of our residents and communities, supporting our state economy, and protecting the environment."
If you want to become involved in the Iowa Food Systems Council, the contact is Angie Tagtow at 515-367-5200 or [email protected]. Tagtow adds, "The vision of the Iowa Food Systems Council is to cultivate a just and diverse food system that supports the health of Iowans, communities, economies and the environment. For further information, we urge people to please visit our website at www.IowaFoodSystemsCouncil.org."