llinois State Board of Education and Lt. Governor Simon Celebrate First National Farm to School Month in October

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon are encouraging Illinois schools to participate in the first Farm to School Month in October with activities such as visiting a local farm and planning a spring garden. This year’s theme is “Bring a Farmer or Chef to School,” which encourages classroom lessons on agriculture and cooking with local fresh produce.

“Farm to School programs promise to improve students’ health and the economic prosperity of our rural, urban and suburban communities,’’ said Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon. “Partnerships between local farmers, chefs and schools introduce students to fresh food and agriculture professions, while supporting small businesses and our regional economies.”

The State Board of Education and the Lt. Governor encourage schools and farmers to register at www.farmtoschool.org/IL to help build a directory of educators and farmers who want to work together to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias, improve student nutrition, provide agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities and support local and regional farms.  Programs that help realize these goals could include connecting school food buyers with Illinois farmers; inviting farmers to host field trips and/or classroom visits for school children; and encouraging parents, teachers, school administrators and community members to learn how to participate in programs.

“We’re thrilled to develop and support strong partnerships between Illinois farmers and school children,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Illinois enjoys a large and diverse agricultural community whose members can help enrich classroom lessons and bring textbook concepts to life.”

Farm to School Programs are based on the premise that students will choose healthier foods, including more fruits and vegetables, if products are fresh, locally grown and picked at the peak of their flavor and if those choices are reinforced with educational activities. Schools report increased consumption of fruits and vegetables through Farm to School meals and increased school meal participation rates.

While October marks the first National Farm to School Month, many schools, from Chicago to downstate, have launched Farm to School programs. For a list of programs, visit http://www.farmtoschool.org/IL/programs.htm.

Other child nutrition resources include:

·         The University of Illinois Extension Office: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/

·         The Let’s Move Campaign’s Chef Move to Schools Program: www.letsmove.gov/chefs-move-schools

·         The School Nutrition Association: www.asfsa.org

·         General Information: www.farmtoschoolmonth.org