Uganda Women Farmers

Poverty is widespread in Uganda, particularly among households that depend on agriculture. Since 2004, Iowa State University’s Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CRSL) and VEDCO – Volunteer Efforts for Developmental Concerns – a Ugandan NGO, have partnered with smallholder farmers to develop and strengthen farmer and small enterprises through greater access to knowledge and technologies for improved production.

This direct engagement with farmers has contributed to a remarkable increase in food security for over 800 households in the Kamuli district (from under 10% secure in 2004 to nearly 70% in 2008). This result has been achieved by strengthening human and social capital, increasing access to improved seed, linking farmers to breeders, establishing and managing community seed multiplication gardens, working with researchers to establish field trials and demonstration plots, and establishing Community Resource Centers.  Located in the Kamuli district/Ugandan women farmers are the primary farmers in the household and through gaining marketing knowledge will impact the financial benefits of their own families from the farms.

Mary Holz-Clause, Karey Claghorn from the Department of Ag, Linda Funk from Soy for Life Foundation, and two additional women in agriculture leadership positions will be on the trip.  The focus of the proposed trip is to promote sustainable livelihoods of small landholder women farmers by strengthening their capacity for market-oriented farming, establishing associations of such farmers to share knowledge, experience and market bases and to demonstrate ways to enhance nutrition through the use of soy and associated protein sources.   Additionally, the diets of those Ugandans in the marketplace will benefit as more “healthy” foods are made available for inclusion in their diets.

Stay tuned for updates from our very own Linda Funk!  She will be travelling to Uganda on January 30 and returning on February 10, 2011.

The Soy for Life Foundation Helps Promote Healthy Lifestyles for Des Moines Girls

             Ankeny, Iowa—With national attention focused on what young Americans eat and how it affects their future health and wellness, the Soy for Life Foundation is taking a leadership role to share its expertise locally. During middle school years, adolescents can learn healthful habits that will have a positive impact throughout their lives. The Soy for Life Foundation has teamed up with The Chrysalis Foundation of Des Moines to maximize the opportunity to educate area middle school girls about healthy diet and lifestyle habits. From January through May 2011, Jantina Wennerstrom, Associate of the Soy for Life Foundation, will travel to local middle schools to present the Soy Sense Curriculum.

            During the one hour, hands-on sessions, students will learn how to take charge of their nutrition habits related to health and wellness.  Soy Sense! a fully developed curriculum for girls is an interactive program designed to introduce adolescents to the nutrition content of foods, portion control, techniques for keeping a food and fitness journal, and the diet-and-exercise connection. Sessions include opportunities for participants to practice what they learn by making their own snacks. As Jantina Wennerstrom explains, “A lot of times, we think we are eating enough fruits and vegetables when we actually aren’t. Keeping a food and fitness journal helps us meet our goals of eating adequate nutrient-rich foods.” 

            The initial three sessions focus on Healthy Eating—The Benefits of Soy; Healthy Lifestyles—Be Strong, not Skinny; and Healthy Eating–Disease Prevention. Soyfoods are a natural component of this program because they are unique among legumes in providing a complete protein that produces all nine amino acids essential to human life—without adding cholesterol to the diet.

            Jantina Wennerstrom will be visiting the following area schools, all which operate Chrysalis After-School programs, in January: Woodside, Bondurant, Hiatt and Hoyt Middle Schools.  In February she’ll travel to Brody and Merrill Middle Schools.  The March schedule includes Goodrell and McCombs Middle Schools.  Southeast Polk Junior High is on the April schedule, followed by Moulton Extended Learning Center in May.

            “It is so important that girls learn healthy habits early to avoid problems in the future,”  notes Chrysalis Executive Director, Terry Hernandez.

            Chrysalis created its signature program, Chrysalis After-School, in 1995 and now operation in 29 locations.  The Chrysalis Foundation of Des Moines is the only public foundation of Greater Des Moines dedicated exclusively to girls and women. It provides resources to support leadership and economic success for girls and women in Polk, Warren and Dallas Counties in Central Iowa. The Soy for Life Foundation, a national organization based in Ankeny, serves to provide information and resources to help others incorporate the benefits of soy into healthy and enjoyable lifestyles.

            For more details about the curriculum, contact Linda Funk, executive director of the Soy For Life Foundation,