Two Farm to Table in Schools Programs Deemed Successful

By Benjamin Cox on February 2, 2024 at 6:17am

Two pilot programs bringing farm to table food to area school children have been classified as successes.

The Sangamon County Board-sponsored farm to school pilot program in the Pawnee School District has been celebrated for its strides in scratch cooking for students as well as local food procurement. The program is scheduled to last for 3 years and the school has already incorporated locally-sourced radishes, carrots, and lettuce on the salad bar. Additional from-scratch menu items include sausage patties, scrambled eggs, pancakes, broccoli cheddar soup, chicken quesadillas, and more. Students are able to conduct taste tests to see what dishes work and what doesn’t.

The Sangamon County Board has contracted with Beyond Green Partners, which partners with the school district to help train them, procure local foods, and help monitor waste and the budget. The goal is to cook alongside the cafeteria team for a three-year program and then leave the team and kitchen self-sufficient.

The Pawnee School Board had set a first-year goal of purchasing 30% of its food locally. This past November, according to a press release from the Sangamon County Board, the district purchased over 41% from local farmers/vendors, including milk purchases from Prairie Farms, eggs, raw chicken, raw beef and produce from Bland Family Farms and produce from Suttill’s Gardens. Other local purchases have been made from Janie’s Mill and Mueller Farms. In turn, the food is being pulled from a 9-county region including Cass, Christian, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, and Sangamon counties.

In Greene County, students of the Greenfield School District are reaping the rewards of a farm to school grant for the cafeteria. According to the Greene Prairie Press, Greenfield FFA students are using a portion of the grant to bring their own beef to their fellow students. A portion of the grant has been used to process a cow that was raised on the FFA’s farm south of Greenfield for use in the schools’ cafeteria. The 750 pounds of processed beef have been used in scratch cooking for meals for students in the district as recently as this week.

Superintendent Andy Stumpf told the Greene Prairie Press that they hope to be able to process pork from one of the student’s hogs as well as purchase some locally sourced fruits and vegetables next.