Imagine Fresh, Locally Grown Food Served in Schools

March 15, 2007

by Rochelle Davis, HSC Executive Director

We are realists, and we know a multitude of barriers must be dealt with before we can reasonably expect that school lunches will include locally grown fruits and vegetables. For starters, the reimbursement rate from the federal government is too low, school kitchen facilities are inadequate, and government regulations are unclear and inconsistent.

However, if our vision for healthy food is to ever to become a reality, we need to start transforming the food system, the federal school food programs and the school environment now. 

That’s why Healthy Schools Campaign has signed on to support the Illinois Food, Farms and Jobs Act (HB 1300). We are committed to providing Illinois school children with the healthiest and tastiest food available — and what can be healthier or better tasting than an apple or tomato just days after it has been picked? We need to re-think food distribution for that to happen, and this bill provides the necessary framework for supporting a vibrant local food system.

The Illinois Food, Farms and Jobs Act, introduced by Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), authorizes the creation of an Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force that would be charged with developing a plan to support an Illinois local food system. The House Agriculture and Conversation Committee voted unanimously in February to send the bill to the full House, where it now awaits action. A companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the Illinois Senate.

Thanks to Rep. Hamos, as well as groups like Sustain and the Evanston Food Policy Council, for leading the way.