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Farm to School programs benefit the entire community

 

SPRINGFIELD —Governor Pat Quinn,  Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and the Illinois State Board of Education are working to spread the word about National Farm to School Month in October. Schools are encouraged to participate in Farm to School programs, which aim to help students choose healthier foods, including more fruits and vegetables.

“Farm to School programs stress healthy eating and teach children the origin of our food,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Parents, teachers and even students have the opportunity to make a difference in their community for National Farm to School Month.”

To get started on a new Farm to School program or to share projects, schools and farmers can visit the Illinois Farm to School Website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/farmtoschool/, administered by the University of Illinois Extension Office. Schools and farmers across the state are working together to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias and improve student nutrition; provide agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities; and support local and regional farmers. A list of ideas and resources for the classroom is at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/farmtoschool/school_classroom.cfm.

Earlier this year, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a proclamation, designating October as Farm to School Month in Illinois and calling for public support of Farm to School initiatives throughout the Land of Lincoln.

Some of the projects and events that help realize these goals 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.

“Farm to School programs educate our students about the health benefits of local food and importance to our economy,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon. “With these programs, more of our food dollars will remain in local communities and we create valuable connections between schools, students, and local farmers that will enhance students’ understanding of agriculture in Illinois.”

At the National Farm to School website, http://www.farmtoschoolmonth.org/, schools can take the Farm to School Counts pledge and share their Farm to School activities during the month of October for a chance to win prizes. Educators and others also can sign up for news and updates.

Farm to School newsletters from the University of Illinois Extension is available at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/farmtoschool/newsletter.cfm. To sign up to receive the latest electronic issues, send an email to Julia Govis at jgovis@illinois.edu and write “Newsletter” in the subject line. The newsletters include information about upcoming webinars and many resources for educators.

Additional resources on child nutrition to help celebrate National Farm to School Month include The Let’s Move Campaign’s Chef Move to Schools Program, www.letsmove.gov/chefs-move-schools, and the School Nutrition Association, www.asfsa.org.

For the latest news from the Illinois State Board of Education, follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Illinois-State-Board-of-Education/136022251779 or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ISBEnews. Visit the official ISBE website at http://www.isbe.net.

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