January 05, 2015

Farm to School Networking Conferences set

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will lead three 2015 Farm to School Networking Conferences in Carbondale, Springfield and Joliet in February and March. 

Farm to school is a movement supporting local foods, nutrition and agricultural education, and healthy foods in schools. The conferences address the two key stakeholders in the movement -- farmers and school foodservice managers. 

The SIU-led networking conferences cover topics that include economic opportunities for farmers, safe food handling, cooking demonstrations, and rules and regulations for food procurement at schools. The agenda includes speakers from SIU, the USDA Midwest Region Farm to School office, Illinois State Board of Education-Nutrition and Wellness Programs, several food distributors and two chefs. 

Sylvia Smith, associate professor of animal science, food and nutrition at SIU, said she expects representation from at least 75-100 small and medium farms, and 100-150 school foodservice managers from throughout the state. 

Registration is free, but space is limited. Programs begin at 9 a.m. with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. The event lasts until about 4 p.m., including a question and answer session and a break for lunch. Here are the conference dates:

Feb. 9 – Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield

Feb. 23 – Southern Illinois University Carbondale

March 9 – Joliet Junior College, Joliet 

SIU’s partners for these conferences are: the Illinois Farmers Market Association, University of Illinois Extension, and the Illinois State Board of Education. A USDA Farm to School grant supports the events. 

For more information, contact Sylvia Smith at 618/536-7567 or ssmith@siu.edu.