Change in Leadership
9:19 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

"Rebooting" SEIA Local Foods Movement

An effort is underway to “reboot” the local foods movement in southeast Iowa.

Geode Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) oversaw the Buy Fresh, Buy Local program for five counties: Lee, Des Moines, Henry, Louisa & Washington.

A cut in federal funding, several years ago, led to the organization disbanding and the local foods program shifting to auto-pilot.

What I see as being the main problem, right now, is that there is no umbrella organization.

That is when Fairfield (IA)-based Pathfinders RC&D entered the picture.  The organization absorbed the five Geode counties into its own program, which was already serving eight south-central Iowa counties.

Coordinator Jan Swinton says despite the transition, the local foods movement remains strong in southeast Iowa.

She says there is some room for improvement.

"What I see as being the main problem, right now, is that there is no umbrella organization" says Swinton.  "So there is a lot of networking going on... a lot (of people) who are growing in their capacity... a lot of schools that are interested in buying the food, retailers and restaurants interested in buying the local food.  But we do not have a clear organization, so no one knows who to call."

Swinton says two informational meetings will be held in Lee County: Feb 27 - Keokuk, March 15 - Donnellson.

She hopes they bring together growers, processors, distributors and consumers so the group can work together to reboot the local foods movement in this area.

Swinton also hopes these meetings and her time in southeast Iowa show her someone who can become a local foods coordinator for this area.

She says with 13 counties to oversee, it is difficult for her to keep up with the individual needs of each county.