Learn More About Locally Sourced School Food at Chicago Summit on March 15

March 12, 2013 | Written By:

On March 15, FamilyFarmed.org presents a summit with a focus on locally sourced school food!


A little drumstick can make a big difference.That’s what Jim Slama and the team at FamilyFarmed.org believe, and last year, FamilyFarmed.org worked with a coalition of key partners, including HSC, Pew Charitable Trusts and School Food FOCUS, to help connect Chartwells Thompson, the dining services providers for many Chicago Public Schools, with local producers. Through these connections, Chartwells worked with family farmers in nearby Indiana to launch a chicken campaign, giving CPS students the same high-quality chicken raised without antibiotics. Chartwells has also purchased apples from farmers in nearby Michigan for CPS, as well as produce from Illinois and neighboring Midwestern states, all going back to school meals in those Midwestern schools.

“It’s been a great opportunity for farmers when schools are buying produce at that level,” FamilyFarmed.org founder Jim Slama says. “It’s really good for the movement.”

As part of its annual Good Food Festival in Chicago, FamilyFarmed.org is holding sessions devoted to school food on March 15th. 

The summit features a variety of compelling panels related to improving school food, including:

  • Healthy School Campaign’s Rosa Ramirez will be moderating a panel about Better Nutrition in Schools featuring local and regional school health and nutrition experts, including Kymm Mutch of School Food FOCUS, Annie Lionberger from Chicago Public Schools, Melissa Graham from Purple Asparagus and Sarah Rand from the University of Chicago from 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.  
  • Jim Slama moderates Best Practices In Local Food Procurement from 1 p.m. – 2:15 p.m., with advice from experts from Harvest Moon Farm, Chicago Public Schools, Sodexo (Northwestern University) and Gourmet Gorilla.
  • In addition to the session on Sustainable Meat in the trade show, there will be a panel on Getting Responsibly Produced Chicken on the Menu from 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. with Andrew Gunther from Animal Welfare Approve moderating and poultry industry experts from Tyson, Miller Poultry and Yuppie Hill Poultry as well as School Food FOCUS.  

Slama recommends the festival and summit to a number of parties involved in school health, from producers and food service directors, who benefit from the education focus and emphasis on best practices, as well as parents and nonprofits who care about this issue who can learn from one another and connect. He says the benefits of farm-to-school programs and local food sourcing are extensive, and cover nutritional, economic, educational and environmental areas, to name a few.

“School food service directors can learn a lot by coming to our conference, meeting the key players and learn how to take their program to the next level,” Slama says.

In addition to a focus on school food, the Good Food Festival celebrates local food in general — from delicious eats to inspiring projects. We're particularly excited about Saturday's Urban Farm Bus Tour, which will take participants to groundbreaking urban agriculture sites, including Growing Power, Chicago Botanic Gardens’ Windy City Harvest and more.

To register for all Good Food Festival events, search the schedule, connect with vendors  and more, visit GoodFoodFestivals.com.

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