Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.17
Liaison Emily Neal
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Luther College
IN-26: Innovation C

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Toby Cain
Sustainability Coordinator
Center for Sustainable Communities
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

For more than thirteen years, Luther College has championed the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative (FFI). This collaborative project with additional higher education partners, including Iowa State and the Northeast Iowa Community College, has had a tremendous impact in the region and has offered a unique experiential learning opportunity for Luther students. Over the course of this initiative, Luther students have been involved in: community organizing, mentoring, teaching, GIS mapping, job shadowing, program development, data collection, and evaluation.

Using the Systems Change Model and Core Theory of Change, FFI has created a common regional vision to make Northeast Iowa 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.

The primary focus of our work has been to engage students, teachers, early childhood care providers, farmers, public servants, and many other regional partners in building a local and regional food system, growing Farm to School programs, and creating healthy environments for youth, from pre-K through high school and beyond.

These are the most notable accomplishments of FFI:
In the last thirteen years, over 15 school districts have implemented a Local Food Policy and 20 school gardens have been built and maintained in the region.

Seventy early childhood settings have implemented Farm-to-Early-Childhood programs. A cadre of educational programs have been built into the pre-K through 12th grade setting. Some of the most innovative include cross-aged teaching models between high school and early elementary students relating to nutrition education and healthy living.

Over 50 walking and biking school bus routes have been established since 2011, utilizing countless volunteers, students, and community elders. In addition, FFI has organized the collaboration of over 50 community health stakeholders to address regional community health needs, for which a messaging campaign for walking was developed. Luther College students helped create over 66 walking maps for 24 Northeast Iowa towns, helping to launch the Walk More, Connect More campaign.

Creating a local and regional food system has been at the heart of FFI's work. Over the last thirteen years, FFI has been instrumental in building the capacity of local educational institutions to purchase more than $2 million worth of local foods annually.

Most recently, Luther College and FFI have embarked on a collaborative research project with the Mayo Health System to study childhood obesity. This project has partnered the Luther College Nursing Department, Psychology Department, and the Mayo Health Clinic together, providing a tremendous opportunity for our students to learn.

Additional outcomes can be found on FFI's website.


Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Public Engagement
Wellbeing & Work

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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