Skip to main content


Northern Illinois Food Bank is the Difference Between Going Hungry, or Not

There’s an amazing organization tucked in a business park on the edge of Geneva, Illinois. It doesn’t make food additives or envelopes, or produce entertaining plays for their community like the neighboring businesses. Its work isn’t glamorous, and it doesn’t have customers world-wide. But, it does have something else: heart. Lots and lots of heart.

It’s the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which works to solve hunger everyday. You may be wondering why there is a need for a large, modern food aggregation facility that feeds 71,500 of your neighbors each week. How can there be that many hungry people in the 13 counties they serve?           

If you look at the hunger study Northern Illinois Food Bank participated in during 2014, you will note some shocking facts about our area of the state. Did you know 600,000 people in Northern Illinois turn to food panties and meal programs every week? Or that 78 percent of people who use the Food Bank’s services have a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, and 30 percent have completed some college, earned a business, trade or technical degree or completed a four-year college degree or higher level of education?

Are you surprised?

The face of hunger has changed.  In DuPage County alone, 85,560 are food insecure, and 44,010 people are food insecure in Kane County. Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members, and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. That amounts to 77 percent of those Northern Illinois neighbors making hard choices between paying utilities, or buying needed food.

Thankfully, Northern Illinois Food Bank is in it for the long haul. It is a nonprofit organization that provides food assistance through a network of 800 food pantries and feeding programs. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 62.5 million meals across 13 counties of Northern Illinois.

Each year in Northern Illinois, people are at risk of skipping 70 million meals, simply because they don’t have enough food for three meals per day. Northern Illinois Food Bank has committed to filling this “meal gap”.  It’s goal is to bring the number of meals distributed in their network to 75 million annually by the year 2020. That would provide every meal, every day, for every hungry neighbor. Wow, just think about it!

We are so proud to be partnering with the Northern Illinois Food Bank at our Illinois Farm to School Day on March 3. Every ticket purchased for our Farmhouse Fete will help feed those in need in our communities through the Northern Illinois Food Bank. We cannot think of a better partner, or a more important cause! See you at the Fete!

It’s a School Lunch Revolution and You Can Have Front Row Seats!

Whether, or not, you have children who attend a K-12 school many of us are familiar with the issues surrounding school lunch. It’s not hard to form an opinion of a program which feeds more than 31 million U.S. children each school day. With nutrition and meal program requirements in flux at the federal level, school staff are struggling just to keep up. Meanwhile, the children they serve are finding it difficult to accept these new standards as their school meals shift in size, choices and ultimately, in taste. 

How do schools teach their students to enjoy squash, spinach, or beets?

What if I told you school lunch has an ally in the fight to serve healthier meals? Farm to School can help schools change how kids view the new and improved lunch tray! Do you want to know how this national program is helping school lunch? To learn more, join us on March 3, 2017 at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva as we educate and then celebrate all things Farm to School in Northern Illinois!

On March 3rd, there’s something for everyone starting in the morning with accredited trainings for school staff, leading into an afternoon of family education and activities on gardening and local foods. Later, join us for our keynote speaker, Shawna Coronado and an after-celebration: The Farmhouse Fete!

Whether you’re familiar with the Farm to School movement, or interested in discovering how we can help you change young children’s eating habits, we have activities, fun and education for you!

School lunch has a new partner. Join us to see what the future of school lunch looks like!

Learn more about Farm to School Day HERE.

Join us for Farm to School Day!


The Illinois Farm to School Network is hosting a full day of activities and trainings for schools and families across Northern Illinois. Save the date for March 3rd, 2017 – Farm to School Day!

We are offering workshops for teachers and food service professionals, activities in the afternoon for families (bring the kids), and an inspiring evening with a keynote and fun farm to table celebration. Learn more at the Farm to School Day site here. Register for the event on Eventbrite. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Apple Crunch Success in Illinois

Did you hear that? That’s the sound of Illinois Farm to School participation on the rise!

By Diane Chapeta, Illinois Farm to School Network

“CRUNCH!” That was the sound heard across Illinois yesterday as 350,000 students took a bite out of local apples in cafeterias, on playgrounds, and in their classrooms. The second annual Illinois Great Apple Crunch, a part of the Midwest Apple Crunch and inspired by the Food Day Apple Crunch, has taken apples out of Illinois orchards, literally, and placed them into the hands of Illinois students.

You may be thinking “Apples- kids… that’s not exactly news.”

Nature Exploration Academy

Nature Exploration Academy

Well, you’d be wrong. Let me explain.

It’s true that children have a propensity toward eating apples. Apples make up the second largest category of fruit eaten by school-age children in our country, with bananas topping that list. Kindergarten students sing songs about Johnny Appleseed, a real American pioneer nurseryman by the name of John Chapman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as the northern counties of present-day West Virginia.  And, you can trace apple lore all the way back to the beginning of our country’s history. Apples have inspired songs and popular sayings like “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” and “As American as apple pie!” So, why all the fuss when Illinois students bite into apples on a beautiful, sunny day in October?

Local. A very powerful word. Education. Another, equally powerful word. When you incorporate both into a school activity designed to reach thousands of kids across our state you begin to make a change in how those kids perceive fresh food, and who sells those fresh foods to school programs.

How can Illinois school children biting into Illinois apples not be a win/win?

East Richland Community Unit School District 1

East Richland Community Unit School District 1

Yesterday, our office joined the Apple Crunch festivities at Rockford Public Schools, along with Acting Branch Chief Eleanor Thompson of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Midwest Regional branch. We were excited to be part of this event for two reasons. First, this was Rockford Public School’s first foray into the Great Apple Crunch. And, second? This is the first time our state stood firmly in the lead for Apple Crunch participation during the Mid-West Crunch! Yes!

That last fact is very telling, indeed. It tells us that schools across Illinois are beginning to participate in farm to school activities. And, as more and more districts begin activities integrating farm to school into their lunch programs and classrooms, local foods and food education are slowly taking center stage.

As of yesterday, Rendleman’s Orchard in Alto Hills, IL, an Illinois Centennial Farm and a supplier to the Crunch, was sold out of smaller sized apples. Those small apples have the least amount of “marketability” for local growers. And, selling out of small apples? That was a direct result of participation in the Illinois Great Apple Crunch.

Hello Lydia,


Kreitner Elementary School

I want to thank you for all the work you have done to promote healthy eating and local produce in our Illinois schools. The movement also has a huge impact for family farms and the Illinois rural economy. It was exciting to see our apples in the       school’s cafeteria through the picture attached. Thank You!

Wayne Sirles, President Rendleman’s Orchard


More local food being purchased by local schools.

More student education on nutrition and whole foods.

Really, what’s not to love?