Our Team

Iowa Kitchen Connect, a program of Iowa Valley RC&D, started at a local level in Iowa City when three community leaders sought to address a need for community resources to support food entrepreneurs. It now serves kitchens and entrepreneurs for the entire state of Iowa. If you are an entrepreneur with questions or a kitchen manager that would like your space to be listed, please use the contact us form to reach Program Coordinator Jake Kundert.

Program Manager

Jake Kundert Headshot

Jake Kundert

Food Systems Director, Iowa Valley RC&D

As Iowa Valley RC&D’s Food Systems Director, Jake works with public and private small, direct-to-consumer farming operations in both rural and urban settings. He specializes in providing one-on-one assistance to area farmers and site managers to help them reach their operational and program goals. Kundert has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Iowa, with a focus in community and behavioral health, as well as program design, implementation, and evaluation. Kundert has worked on small- and medium-sized fruit, vegetable, and livestock farms and on food-related projects in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, the Gambia, and Italy, as well as various direct-to-consumer vegetable farmers in Eastern Iowa. He has experience leading charitable food production, specialty crop research, farmers market manager trainings, and food entrepreneurship development.

Founding Partners

Jason Grimm

Deputy Director, Iowa Valley RC&D

Jason Grimm, Deputy Director of the Iowa Valley RC&D, has worked with beginning farmers and ranchers since 2009 when Iowa Valley RC&D launched its Regional Food Initiative. Grimm has developed tools to improve efficiency for local producers, including production agreement templates and a statewide Iowa Farm to School Toolkit. Grimm acts as a Value Chain Coordinator connecting producers to each other, to viable markets, and institutions, and cultivates relationships within the food system. He established the Johnson County and Linn County Food Policy Councils. Grimm is a member of the Regional Food Systems Working Group, Iowa Food Hub Managers Working Group, Iowa Food & Farm Advisory Council, Board Member of Local Foods Connection, Eastern Iowa Chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, Iowa Valley Regional Farmers Market Association, and an Iowa Organic Conference Planning Committee Member.

Jesse Singerman

President, Prairie Ventures, LLC

K. Jesse Singerman has over 35 years of experience in distribution, retail grocery and the natural and organic products industry. She has held a number of industry leadership positions, including serving as President and CEO of Blooming Prairie Warehouse, a major natural products distributor, for over 20 years. She also served as the Director of Natural and Organic Food for Roundy’s Supermarkets, and currently operates Prairie Ventures LLC, a consulting firm focused on business growth strategies. She works extensively in the area of distribution and local food systems.

Jessica Fogarty

Talent Development Specialist, National Cooperative Grocers

Jessica Burtt Fogarty is a food cooperative and community food system professional, working in the field since 2004. She is involved with Iowa Valley’s food system development work, working with Iowa Valley Food Co-op, Field to Family, Iowa Valley RC&D and formerly with Iowa’s Regional Food System Working Group. She is currently full time with National Co+op Grocers as a Training Specialist and enjoys small community side projects. Her background is in health promotion, community organizing, and marketing – working in University, non-profit, and cooperative settings.

Thank you to our Supporters

City of Iowa City
Leopold Center
Johnson County
U of I Office of Outreach & Engagement
UI Partners
ICAD
Johnson County Crisis Center
New Pioneer Food Co-op
Kirkwood Community College