Connecting with Farm to School
Julia Govis is our connection to the Farm to School organization and to the Illinois Farm to School Initiative. Govis is part of our Environment, Agriculture and Food team and also serves as the Interim Director of the Illinois Farm to School. Farm to School is a national, non-governmental organization that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.
From Foodsheds to Schoolsheds
Our goal is to utilize our Foodshed Mappping to help fulfill the new State of Illinois Directive (SB615) which requires the Department of Agriculture to establish, and make available on its website, a geo-coded electronic database to facilitate the purchase of fresh produce and food products by schools.
Highlights of the bill that the Governor signed in July 2010 (from votesmart.org) include:
Using the a subset of the geospatial data we have assembled for foodshed mapping and adding layers for local school districts, we can evaluate parameters that define demand and potential needs that can be met within "schoolsheds".
We want to explore whether the approach we are using in our research can also be helpful towards the new goal of bringing fresher and healthier foods to K-12 schools in Illinois. AND, we want to help to choose steps in this direction that make environmental sense. What is happening in Illinois is part of a larger, nationwide movement. Therefore, informing policies on bringing produce into schools could have a wide ranging effect.