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Evolving stories About Growing Food in a Big City

Chicago Public Schools to buy more produce from Illinois farmers

Cassandra West

The food service provider for Chicago Public Schools plans to increase the produce it buys from Illinois farmers. Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality is asking farmers to contract for $500,000 of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in addition to the $1.8 million in local farm products purchased last year, the food service company said in a July 15 press release. “This program is fulfilling our commitment to meet the new nutritional standards adopted by the Chicago Board of Education to try and surpass the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ‘gold standard’ guidelines for school food,” said Louise Esaian, logistics officer for food service at Chicago Public Schools.

Chartwells-Thompson has teamed with FamilyFarmed.org, a Chicago-based non-profit that works to build and utilize local food systems.

“We want apples, peaches pears, broccoli, beans, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables grown by Illinois farmers to serve nearly 305,000 students in 481 schools every day,” said Bob Bloomer, regional vice president for Chartwells-Thompson. “This is good for local farmers and great for Chicago students.”