URBANA – In response to Governor Pat Quinn’s proclamation of October 2012 as National Farm to School Month in Illinois, University of Illinois Extension will offer educational programs on school nutrition. “This designation will help build awareness for the Farm to School program and its activities in Illinois,” said Julia Govis, coordinator for Illinois Farm to School.
Govis said that school administrators, school board members, teachers, parents, school food staff and purchasing agents, as well as farmers will benefit from the information presented at several upcoming presentations being offered by U of I Extension.
A seminar entitled “Serve It Safely” will be held on Monday, Oct. 1 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the U of I Extension office in Belvidere, IL. Registration is available at https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=7240 .
Two webinars are also scheduled. “Illinois School Food Procurement: Rules, Grants and Training Opportunities,” will be held Monday, Oct. 1, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
“Moving Salad Bars to Illinois Schools,” will be presented on Monday, Oct. 8, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Registration for both of the webinars is available at https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=7206. Instructions on how to call into the webinar and the full agenda will be emailed following registration.
On Oct. 20, a Farm to School workshop designed for parents and community members will be held in Freeport from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Participants will learn the basics of Farm to School efforts, how schools can use local produce and products, and what will benefit the students, schools and communities. Another session on school gardens will include information on garden planning, technical advice, and tips on how to sustain it through the summer. To register, call 815-235-4125 or visit extension.illinois.edu/jsw.
“Localvore Luncheon” will be held on Monday, Oct. 22 at the Ida Public Library in Belvidere, followed by “Farm to School 101” presented by Govis. Registration for the lunch and presentation can be found at https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=6929 .
The National Farm to School Network connects schools and local farms, with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing education, and supporting local and regional farmers. The national program began in 1996 as a pilot project in California and Florida, and today there are over 2,000 programs in all 50 states.
Govis works with the State Board of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Public Health as well as the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor. “I reach out to these agencies to address barriers or obstacles within our state that I’m made aware of,” said Govis, “as communities work toward creating their own unique programs. For instance, right now I’m working with the public health department to put together recommendations for school garden safety.”
Govis also works with volunteers across Illinois to coordinate efforts that include “getting more locally grown, fresh produce into school cafeterias, establishing school gardens on school premises, or taking field trips to farms.”
You can learn more about the Illinois Farm to School program at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/farmtoschool/ .