Unit 5 Exploring New Farm-To-School Program | WGLT

Unit 5 Exploring New Farm-To-School Program

Oct 27, 2017

The Unit 5 school board is looking into bringing local food to its school cafeterias.

During Wednesday's Unit 5 school board meeting, a draft resolution was discussed that would create the farm-to-school program. In addition to creating healthier lunch menus, collaborating with local farms could bolster agricultural education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiatives in the district, officials said.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said students could partner with farmers to create community gardens to feed the community. Daniel is enthusiastic about the idea.

"Food is the first economy of any society."

"If we're doing some of those things, maybe there's some things we can do locally. And again, what is local? We have to define what that is," said Daniel. "I'm excited about this type of project and maybe how we can make it a part of our strategic plan."

Several board members shared their personal experiences and preferences toward locally produced food during their meeting. Board member David Fortner said he fully supports the measure.

"The purpose of this resolution is to establish a committee to assess what we currently have in place and to work with the community to develop funding sources, resources and partnerships," Fortner said.

Fortner said a committee should be created by February. Fortner said involvement in local agriculture could support mental, physical and academic development for Unit 5's most vulnerable students. He quoted a representative from the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.

"Food is the first economy of any society. Not only does everybody have to eat every day, usually there's some economic exchange that takes place. Regardless of how impoverished people are, they're going to find a way to get food," he said.

By bringing in local food to Unit 5 cafeterias, Daniel said money can be recycled through the local economy.

"We'll need community partners, and we heard from one of our board members who's involved with ISU, which is one of the gems of our community. So how do we connect with that gem?" Daniel said.

Fortner said an official proposal should be ready by March.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.