The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 revealed the crucial role local food systems can play in community food security. The nation’s food systems practitioners have identified professional development opportunities as a pressing need in addressing issues of food security and equity.
A national team of researchers and practitioners led by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has developed a national database for both practitioners and educational resources related to a previous project for food systems core competencies. This project is supported by a cooperative agreement between the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program of ISU Extension and Outreach and the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
A team of nine organizations including Iowa State’s Indicators Team created the database, which goes live July 15. Team members included Colorado State University and Local Food Economics, North Carolina State, American Farmland Trust, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, National Center for Appropriate Technology, University of Vermont and the Food Safety Clearinghouse, the North American Food Systems Network, Extension Foundation and the Wallace Center at Winrock International.
The site currently contains 92 educational resource profiles and 79 practitioner profiles across the nation, added during a limited pilot in spring 2021. Anyone engaged or interested in food systems can add their profile and use the database to learn about educational resources and practitioners in their area. For example, a search for “equity” might show both trainings and curricula and local practitioners with equity expertise to connect with directly.
“This website will be a useful resource to support individuals seeking out educational resources around food systems,” said Courtney Long. “It will also help connect and identify food systems practitioners across nine different competency areas.”
Marie Boyd, Healthy Harvest Executive Director shared that, “this directory is something we’ve needed here in Iowa, as our system has grown in complexity. It is an opportunity to map the complexities between local food coordinators, food hubs, farmers, farm to school leaders, and beyond. I am looking forward to utilizing this resource to fully understand our food systems workers across the state to more fully connect and develop relationships.”
The site is ready for individuals to develop profiles and begin listing existing curricula. The team welcomes anyone working across the sectors of food systems, hosting educational programs or who have general interest to check out the food systems practitioner and educational resource database at https://foodsystemsdb.extension.iastate.edu.
and see the Food Systems Core Competency Project links at www.extension.iastate.edu/ffed/cfs.