SYCAMORE – Local commodity producers will have an opportunity to learn how they might sell to the DeKalb School District during a Meet the Buyer program Wednesday.
"This is an opportunity for farmers to learn firsthand what schools are looking for in terms of local food," said Cynthia Haskins of the Illinois Farm Bureau.
The program will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture, 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore.
Julia Govis, University of Illinois Extension Farm to School coordinator, will share opportunities for local produce to be used in schools. She has invited a buyer from Chartwells, the service that provides meals for DeKalb schools, to discuss the company's purchasing protocol and what items the company buys. If buyers like Chartwells buy locally, schools will end up serving local products.
"We've partnered with the Farm Bureau to host these 'meet the buyer' programs, and generally pair up producers with buyers for stores and restaurants," Govis said. "This is the first program to pair up schools and farmers."
The idea behind the program is to help farmers understand how to sell their products locally on a large scale, said Ellen Phillips, University of Illinois Extension local food systems and small farms educator.
At least one local fruit and vegetable grower, Jeff Wielert of Bountiful Blessings Farm near Hinckley, is interested. But he said he has a lot of questions.
"My concern is that I won't have enough product," Wielert said. "I'm hoping it will be a discussion with the buyers about how it could happen. ... When you think about the amount of food a school needs, I just have to ask if a small producer like me can handle something like that."
Wielert was part of a DeKalb-area focus group that met in October to discuss local foods. One of the priorities identified was increasing local foods in the schools.
On Wednesday, Dan Kenney of DeKalb Community Gardens also is scheduled to provide an update on the progress toward a regional food hub and processing center to aggregate and process locally grown food.
There is no fee to attend, but participants are asked to register at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo/. For more information, contact Ellen Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-758-8194.
If you go
• What: Meet the School Buyer
• When: 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday
• Where: Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture, 1350 W. Prairie Drive, Sycamore
• Register: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo/
• For information: Contact Ellen Phillips at email@example.com or 815-758-8194