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June 24, 2014;Des Moines Register

Eat Greater Des Moines hosted its first speed dating event this week, but those looking to be hooked up were food growers and chefs. Aubrey Martinez and Linda Gobberdiel run the one-year-old group, which now covers Polk, Dallas and Marion counties. Gobberdiel says the group is meant to streamline and manage the local food system “from the time food is planted to the time it becomes waste or is rescued.”

Martinez says their work is about “getting people to talk to each other. [Food-related businesses and groups] tend to be siloed. We’re trying to find out where the gaps are, to identify, develop and connect resources.”

The group has received a grant to work with an app called Food Cowboy, which can help to connect home gardeners, restaurants, truckers, caterers, etc., but it also intends to connect mentors to beginning food producers. This service was used by Central Iowa Shelter Services last year when it started a garden.

“They helped us connect with partners who advised us on what to grow, how much to grow and what to do with [the produce],” said CISS executive director Tony Timm.

“It’s our job to get people to talk to each other,” Martinez said. And that makes a lot of sense to Gobberdiel. “Everyone’s a part of the food system because we all eat. The idea is to get as many people in Iowa to make healthy choices as possible—to make healthy choices the easy choices.”—Ruth McCambridge