Tammy Stotts remembers setting up a display at the Iowa State Fair that had kids matching a fruit or vegetable with the plant that it came from. Most of the kids had no clue which plant produced apples or peas or tomatoes.

Stotts, the Farm to School program coordinator for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewa­rdship, is working to change this.

Established in 2007 through legislation, the Farm to School program tries to link elementary, secondary, public and non-public schools with Iowa farmers and to provide schools with fresh and minimally processed Iowa-grown food for inclusion in school meals and snacks.

"We want to encourage children to...