New Report Rates Health and Resilience of Iowa Food System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts: Angie Tagtow, Environmental Nutrition Solutions, (515) 669-8579,; Susan Roberts, Roberts Law Firm, PLC, (515) 480-5898, IOWA— Iowa’s food systems are being challenged by environmental threats of climate changes, water shortages, and depleted soils; energy threats of decreasing fossil fuels and rising energyCultivating Resilience in Iowa Food Systems costs; health threats of increasing obesity and, at the same time, increasing hunger; and economic threats of fewer farmers and increased control of our food by large corporations. According to Susan Roberts, “We all eat. Food is essential to our existence. It’s an important part of Iowa’s heritage and culture. Yet, we often take for granted the large systems that produce, process, distribute, make accessible and dispose of the food we eat.” The report Cultivating Resilience: A Food System Blueprint that Advances the Health of Iowans, Farms and Communities is the result of multi-disciplinary efforts including food system stakeholders across Iowa engaged in conversations about the future of food. The objective of the report is to measure the resilience and health of Iowa’s food system through a report card leading to recommendations for research, programs and policies to ensure a food system that supports healthier Iowans, communities, economies, and the environment.

Roberts, and co-author Angie Tagtow, analyzed 14 indicators that cut across production, processing, distribution, retail, consumption, health and waste management areas. Five of the 14 indicators exhibited a healthy trend whereas nine indicators exhibited an unhealthy trend – designating the state of Iowa’s food system as ‘Poor.’

According to Tagtow, “Evaluating Iowa’s food system as a whole, allows a broad, comprehensive perspective on the complexities and interconnectedness of our food system. This report is critical for local and state policymakers to guide them in making decisions that strengthens the health and resilience of Iowa’s food system.”

Three recommendations focus on strengthening Iowa’s food system and policy infrastructure at the state, regional and local levels. Twenty-eight recommendations offer specific, action-oriented strategies that restore health and resilience across Iowa’s food system sectors. The report offers a template for counties and municipalities to replicate the process.

This blueprint was presented to the newly formed Iowa Food Systems Council ( as a stepping-stone in examining Iowa’s food system through a comprehensive lens. This framework opens opportunities to broaden this examination and dialog; allows ongoing monitoring of the health and resilience of Iowa’s food system; engages diverse stakeholders; encourages public-private partnerships; and implements initiatives that assure more resilient and healthy food systems in Iowa.

The report is available at

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation generously provided funding for development of this report. For further information, please visit the Foundation’s website at The University of Northern Iowa Center on Health Disparities provided fiscal administration of the grant.

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