Growing together – and grateful

John Lawrence’s message from Nov. 27, 2017

Thanksgiving tends to make people think about what they’re thankful for. One thing we all should be thankful for is safe food. I recently learned about two of our programs that address food safety. In early November, I completed the ServSafe program required of food service managers. It is a daylong training provided by our human sciences specialists. (FYI, I passed the test and now have a backup plan if this university thing doesn’t work out.) I also spent time with our AnswerLine team on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. While they handle more than food questions, they typically have more than 400 phone calls in the four business days leading up to Thanksgiving. Many calls deal with proper thawing, cooking and left-over planning, all of which have food safety implications. These colleagues are a great resource for consumers and staff alike, and represent ISU Extension and Outreach at our best. They also have some interesting stories to tell.

Besides the time with family and friends, and a tasty and safe turkey dinner, I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve as your Interim VP. I continue to learn about, and be grateful for, our programs and our people. You make me proud every day as we work together to serve Iowans.

For example, “Growing Together Iowa” combines the efforts of Human Sciences with Agriculture and Natural Resources for a common goal – feeding people. For the second year in a row, our SNAP-Ed nutrition education and our Master Gardeners partnered with local food pantries to reduce food insecurity in Iowa. Did you know?

  • 74,924 pounds of fruits and vegetables were harvested and donated as of Nov. 8. This amount includes produce from Master Gardener mini-grant recipients in 15 counties as well as the home demonstration gardens on six Iowa State research farms.
  • More than 75 sites (food pantries, meal sites, shelters, etc.) received these fruits and vegetables.
  • Using a formula of three servings per pound, this year’s harvest yielded 224,772 servings of fruits and vegetables for Iowans with low income.
  • 231 Master Gardeners volunteered their time to the project. Assuming a 20-hour per person commitment (the annual Master Gardener volunteer requirement), the value of their time is estimated at up to $111,526 or 2.28 FTE.
  • An additional 457 volunteers participated in the project throughout the state.
  • New publications created as part of this project include recommended vegetables to grow for food pantry donation and food safety in donation gardens.

Other land-grant universities have been watching. Three (University of Wisconsin, Purdue University and University of Nebraska) recently completed their first year replicating our first-in-the-nation model of mobilizing Master Gardeners and SNAP-Ed to address access to healthy food.

One more thing: Iowa State recently won an Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Universities compete in four categories that recognize different components of economic engagement; Iowa State won the “talent” category. ISU Extension and Outreach has a key role in our university’s economic development efforts, and we played a part in winning this award as well. Our 4-H Culturally-based Youth Leadership Accelerator program was featured in a case study submitted with the award application. For more information, see the APLU news release.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Interim Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.