Brick building with a "groceries" sign jutting out from the building. The sign is white and has black lettering.

Connecting communities and local food in southwest Iowa

Is your community ready to explore how to make locally grown foods accessible? How you can connect people with fruits, vegetables and other healthy options? 

We are now working in southwest Iowa with communities, individuals, and schools.


The Center and its partners will work with six communities to empower and increase access to local foods in southwest Iowa. This will include engaging specialty crop and diversified farmers, rural grocery store owners and operators, community leaders, business owners, and residents through community meetings, food access planning, curriculum development, and regional networking.

Six selected communities located in Monona, Crawford, Harrison, Shelby, Pottawattamie, Cass, Mills, Montgomery, Fremont, Carroll, Audubon, and Page counties will receive assistance with:

  • Developing an action plan to increase access and consumption of healthy foods.
  • Building relationships with local farmers.
  • Facilitation for community meetings and listening sessions with farmers, leaders, food sellers, other stakeholders to identify community strengths, challenges, resources, and needs.
  • Training sessions on retail use of food programs including SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks; establishing and/or reinvigorating farmers markets; embracing a community culture of welcoming and inclusion.
  • Attending the Local Foods Summit a gathering of farmers, community members, and schools engaged in local foods work (fall 2023).

Please contact Deborah Solie with the Center for Rural Affairs with any questions at


Wow, you have great ideas! To kick off this work, we highlighted five innovative local foods access initiatives happening throughout southwest Iowa. These initiatives and projects can serve as idea-starters to incorporate in other communities.


For our work alongside schools in southwest Iowa, click here.

Definition: What is “local” food?

“Nationwide, local foods are often sold directly to consumers through farmers markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture. Direct sales through these and other outlets are a small but growing part of U.S. agriculture, and are especially important for small farms. But sales of locally produced food occur through other outlets, too. Local products may show up in supermarkets, restaurants, and schools, and a growing number of major food retailers are introducing local food sourcing initiatives.”

Learn more by clicking here to access the U.S. Department of Agriculture "What is 'Local' Food?" blog.