Local Foods Associate - Flexible Location in Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa

The Center for Rural Affairs is seeking a full-time Local Foods Associate to work in rural communities in eastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa.  

The ideal candidate will be passionate about an inclusive rural future and about bringing resources to farmers and rural communities. They will serve as a partner with farmers to bring high-value products to customers. They will have a proven ability to build consensus with partners, residents, and other stakeholders to build local capacity for food security, Farm to School programs, and support rural grocery access. They will organize community workshops and events that support local food procurement strategies. They will build and maintain relationships with schools, community groups, farmers, and others. They will be committed to getting results, by creating opportunities for food security, local food access, rural groceries, and Farm to School programs.

Who We Are

The Center for Rural Affairs is a dynamic, energetic non-profit organization working to build a better rural future for all. We’ve done this work for more than 49 years and we do it from rural places. Our work creates opportunities for beginning farmers, new business owners, and first-time advocates. The Center’s work is rooted in principles of diversity and inclusion. We believe that a diversity of people and ideas strengthens our work, our workplace, and our communities. We celebrate this diversity and we are committed to advancing practices that create an equitable and inclusive workplace. We take equal opportunity seriously and we welcome and support all applicants and team members. Additional information can be found at www.cfra.org. 

What You’ll Do

The Local Food Associate, who is based in a flexible location in eastern NE or southwest IA, reports to the Farm & Community Manager and works with the Farm & Community team, is responsible for the following:

  • You will be the project lead to strategically plan, schedule, promote, recruit, and deliver education, training, and demonstration events, videos, and publications. 
  • You will deliver training activities that support local food procurement and strategies with resources for rural grocery, value-added food-based businesses, and farm-to-school stakeholders.
  • You will build and maintain relationships with schools, community groups, parent associations, partner organizations, and farmers on food security, local food access, and Farm to School programs.
  • You will actively and passionately create opportunities for farmer groups to gather, share experiences, and learn together.
  • You will work across the Farm & Community team and other Center teams to find opportunities to lead or support projects related to Farm & Community priorities in eastern Nebraska or west central Iowa.
  • You will develop expertise to provide information and referrals when requested by community members and organizations, Center staff, the media, and project partners. 
  • You will lead and contribute to fundraising efforts supporting program activities, as well as monitor grants, complete grant reporting, and update grant partners on the status of projects.
  • You will become the trusted go-to person for resources and referrals when requested by community members, organizations, Center staff, and project partners. 

Who You Are & Keys to Success (the must-haves)

To be successful in this job, you will excel in four areas:

  • Relationship-building: You develop and maintain strong, collaborative working relationships with a diverse group of stakeholders and can bring in allies and coalition partners from marginalized communities statewide, such as people of color, people with disabilities, low-income families, people experiencing homelessness, and immigrants. You know how to build alliances and find points of collaboration even when there are competing interests.
  • Drive to achieve results: You have a track record of accomplishing ambitious goals and getting results even when there are obstacles. You set a high bar and meet it because you think three (or 30) steps ahead to anticipate hurdles and come up with pragmatic solutions. You plan backward from the goal and involve stakeholders appropriately.
  • Inclusive leadership and management: You approach leadership with a mindset of “power with” rather than “power over” and regularly include others in decision-making. You have experience managing multiple projects and keeping tasks from slipping through the cracks. You use resources wisely and can provide clear direction to staff, partners, consultants, and volunteers to leverage time and talent for impact.
  • Commitment to racial equity and social justice: You recognize the role of race, income, age, immigration status, and other identities in addressing disparities, and you consistently amplify community voices to advocate for more equitable policy solutions. You recognize how your own identities show up in the work, and welcome, reflect on, and act on feedback with an eye toward continuous learning about race, ability, and other lines of difference.
  • You are experienced working in rural communities, with knowledge and/or experience in agricultural production, food systems, local foods procurement, or Farm to School programming.

    If you are fluent in speaking and writing Spanish this is a plus

If you were here right now, you would be

  • Delivering workshops that provide community leaders the knowledge and tools that set the stage for building institutional capacity for an inclusive and accessible food system in their local area.
  • Building and maintaining strong relationships with local community leaders, school communities, business leaders, and farmers and ranchers to engage them in strategy conversations to create a framework for farm-to-school programs, and local food access and production.
  • Leading a community listening session that will bring rural grocery, value-added food-based businesses, and farm-to-school stakeholders together.
  • Serving as the first person that local leaders, residents, business owners, and established agencies seek out for support with farm-to-school or local food resources, advice, and community-based efforts.

What Else You Should Know

This is a full-time non-exempt position based in a flexible location in eastern Nebraska or southwest  Iowa. There is an opportunity for two Local Food Associates to be hired to serve the described geographical areas, in addition to some work in central Nebraska. This position will require frequent travel by car to meet with communities and individuals and include both overnight and out-of-state travel on occasion. This position has a salary range of $45,654-$54,524 with top-notch benefits that have a cash value ranging from $10,000 to $29,500, depending on family status and tenure with the Center.

The Center for Rural Affairs is an Equal Opportunity Employer and participates in E-Verify.

How to Apply

If you would like to work for an organization that has a national reputation as one of the top organizations in the country that works to make rural communities more vibrant, apply by sending your resume, cover letter, and three professional references by clicking here. In the cover letter, please include how your personal and/or professional experiences have positioned you for success in this role, as well as any Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, or Racial Equity related work, skills, or expertise you want us to know about. Let us know how you heard about this position and why you want to work for the Center.