Our Training Events in 2024

With the opening of the Local Food for Schools (LFS) allotment funding, managed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), our trainings have shifted to address local procurement education on both sides of the aisle.

In 2024 IFSN is offering training for institutional buyers and farmers focusing on local procurement utilizing financial support provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau.

School buyer based training hours may be logged toward ISBE continuing education requirements under Management and/or Nutrition education.

We’re Farm to School Ready!

We’re Farm to School Ready trainings began in January 2024. These farmer and food service readiness training events will educate institutional buyers and farmers on the information required to build a successful buyer/seller relationship to overcome barriers, make connections and facilitate procurement of local foods for school meals. Upon completion of required training participants will have created a buyer/seller profile unique to their site. These profiles will be shared in various resource guides across Illinois and will be available to school buyers and farmers in the state.

Participants will also attend an online training to create a Market Maker profile with Illinois Farm to School Network and farm to institution attributes to increase connectivity for local procurement across the platform.

Food service buyer participants will gain the knowledge needed to connect to local farmers and processors, source local foods, and utilize local foods on the menu. 

Farmer and processor participants will learn best tactics to sell into school markets including food safety readiness required to sell to schools and assess school needs and food safety requirements. Each participant will learn to develop a profile sheet to share with interested institutional buyers. All future trainings are shared in our newsletter

“We’re Farm to School Ready” Institutional Buyer training. This training series consists of two trainings, one in-person and one online. Our first in-person training with school buyers was completed on January 18th, 2024. If you missed the first in-person training you are encouraged to register for the second virtual training. A repeat of the first in-person training will be scheduled for the fall of 2024.

As training opportunities are created we will share the dates, times and logistics for each on our newsletter. A choice of two in-person meet and greets with farmers and food hubs will be offered in September 2024. All past attendees will receive information for the next step training in the series. You can sign up for the newsletter here

Institutional Buyer Virtual Training Series

Training One, in-person January 18th, 2024: The topics covered:

  • Gaining an understanding of seasonal, Illinois grown products and when they are available. Applying seasonality to your program menu.

  • Learning ways to menu Illinois foods year round.

  • Receive and utilize resources for food-based education and fun activities in the classroom, the cafeteria and at home.

  • Understand the process of sourcing local foods and develop a process to procure local foods.

  • Develop an Institutional Buyer Profile to share with farms, producers, food hubs and distributors.

Training Two, virtual training: May 15, 2024 2:30pm-4:00pm 

  • Gain knowledge of food-based education and activities for the classroom and cafeteria and how to connect Farm to School to the classroom, garden programs, culinary arts, in-school food pantries, and to community partners.
  • Receive an introduction to creating a bio page and a Market Maker buyer account to connect to farmers, food hubs, and processors and post needed food items in the Buyer/Seller Market page. Participants completing the training may request assistance to create an account.
  • Take away a resource library of food-based education and fun activities for the classroom, the cafeteria and at home.
  • Develop a Farm to School buyer profile to share with farms, food hubs and processors in their area and on IL Market Maker. Completed profiles will be also added to 2024 The Land Connection Local Food Purchasing Guide.

All of our trainings are free for child feeding sites across Illinois. 

“We’re Farm to School Market Ready” farmer/food hub/aggregator trainings are set for March and April 2024. This training series consists of two virtual trainings and a choice of two in-person meet and greets with institutional buyers. As training opportunities are created we will share the dates, times and logistics for each in our newsletter. All past attendees will receive information for the next step training in the series. You can sign up for the newsletter here

All registrants should try to commit to both virtual trainings to complete certification as Farm to School institutional sellers. Different team members may sit in for one, or both virtual trainings, however, the commitment is real.

Farmer/Food Hub/Aggregator Virtual Training Series

Virtual Training One: MARCH 27, 2024 3:00pm-4:30pm CT

Virtual Training Two: APRIL 17, 2024 3:00pm-4:30pm CT

During the MARCH Virtual Training:

  • Gain an understanding of requirements and needs when setting up to sell to school markets 
  • Understand food safety readiness required to sell to schools (on farm food safety plans, water tests, HACCP)
  • Gain an understanding of the school bidding process, payment cycles, and forward contracts
  • Understand packaging/packing requirements and delivery parameters for institutions
  • Learn how to develop individual product profiles focused on the institutional marketplace

During the APRIL Virtual Training:

  • Gain the ability to assess what schools and early care sites are serving and their capabilities
  • Develop a Farm to School seller profile to share with potential institutional customers in your area and on IL Market Maker. Completed profiles will be also added to 2024 The Land Connection Local Food Purchasing Guide.
  • Create a successful IL Market Maker account/profile including Farm to School and Farm to Institution attributes and important information for institutions
  • Earn the second of two credits to become Illinois Institutional Seller certified!

Buyer/seller in-person Meet and Greets will be scheduled in the fall/winter of 2024/25. Watch our newsletter for upcoming registration and details.

Farm to School Local Procurement Days

In 2024 IFSN is continuing to provide Farm to School Local Procurement Day trainings across Illinois. Each training is hosted at a producer, processor, food hub, or organization site linked to the local food chain in Illinois. These institutional buyer trainings cover a variety of topics including LFS procurement, Illinois products and producer spotlights, scratch cooking, tales of successful local procurement from Illinois school nutrition managers, and connecting Farm to School programming to your community. Upcoming events will be shared in our monthly newsletter.

More Local Procurement Day events are coming in fall of 2024, TBD. Interested host sites contact us:

Our Past Training Events and Resources

During 2023 IFSN held five Illinois Farmer Listen and Learn Sessions across the state. These in-person and online sessions shared Bringing the Farm to School training provided by The National Center for Appropriate Technology and incorporated a post-training listening session to discover the barriers Illinois farmers face when selling to institutional buyers. The Illinois Farm Bureau will release a report on the State of Local Procurement in Illinois; Challenges and Solutions soon.

Farm to School Training Webinars, PowerPoints and IFSN Membership Education Calls

Illinois Farm to School Network has educational resources available on multiple Farm to School topics. These webinars and other resources are free to view by anyone interested in learning about farm to school practices and programming.

IFSN Webinar and Call Cache:

  • Fantastic Site Gardens!
  • Gardening with Grants and More!
  • IL Farm to School Programming 411
  • Adding Local to the Menu
  • Solving the Scratch Cooking Puzzle
  • Introducing IL Harvest of the Month!
  • Planning for Next Year w/Farm to School
  • USDA Farm to School Grant 411
  • School Wellness Policy Reboot!
  • Connecting the Dots: Successful Marketing for Your Farm to School Program.
  • Planning for Farm to School Success!
  • IL Harvest of the Month, Learn from Our Participating Schools! Click below to watch an IFSN call sharing the accomplishments made by three farm to school programs in Illinois. Listen to Champaign Unit 4, Mooseheart Child City & School and Wheeling CCSD21 share information about their programs in 2018. To catch up and learn about their progress check out our 2021 podcasts with Mooseheart and Wheeling CCSD21 located here.

All of our network calls and resources are stored online in our Google Drive. Check out this link for the PowerPoints, PDF versions, and recordings: View our webinars HERE! 

Mighty Mini Video Series

IFSN has multiple short training videos available for viewing. Our Mighty Mini Farm to School Video Series provides education on everything you need to know to make Farm to School happen.. at the speed of light! Check out these pertinent topics to help you to create impact and deepen your connection in your community! All videos are between 8 and 18 minutes long, with most videos at around 10 minutes long. Find all of the videos, along with PDFs of the presentations with notes here! These videos can be credited toward ISBE yearly training requirement hours for food service staff.

Mystery Box Harvest Demo from Angelic Organics

If you missed the Growing Deep Roots Farm to School Virtual Institute in 2021 check out this video created by our partners at Angelic Organics in Caledonia, Illinois. The Mystery Box shared ways to use seasonal produce and make the most of the summer’s harvest.

IFSN Presentations

Did you miss us at the conference? Review past presentations in PDF format on multiple topics to learn about best practices, resources and more!

More presentations to come!

Farm Video Tours

Watch and share these fantastic farm videos, perfect for the virtual world!

Farm to School Bootcamps and Trainings

IFSN provides bootcamp trainings across the state. Be sure to receive the IFSN newsletter to be up to date on announcements of upcoming regional trainings. Our bootcamps are free to Illinois child feeding, garden and education sites.

Past State Bootcamps:

  • Northern Illinois- Geneva IL May 2017
  • Central Illinois- Springfield IL June 2018
  • Northern Illinois- Geneva IL May 2019
  • East-Central Illinois- Champaign, IL October 2019
  • State-wide Growing Deep Roots; Farm to School Virtual Institute June 2021- January 2022 


Opportunities to Share Farm to School in Illinois,  Now, More Than Ever! 

Farm to School is happening across our state in many ways. Indoor and outdoor gardens are blossoming while kids learn about math, science, food, and nutrition. Monthly local food tastings are happening in cafeterias, local foods are finding their way onto meal trays in schools, early childcare and institutions, and local foods are now being utilized in culinary arts programs. These are just some of the ways farm to school impacts Illinois children every day.

The Illinois Farm to School Network provides information and assistance to members across Illinois from Waukegan to Carbondale. Our network of teachers, gardeners, school nutrition professionals, early care providers, farmers, food hubs & distributors, public health advocates, and students are passionate about working to change food purchasing and education practices in their communities.

It takes an army of promoters and doers to build farm to school across our state. Would you like to become more active in farm to school in Illinois? Are you a person of action? Do you have the ability to share information, promote, or organize farm to school activities in your area of Illinois? Then, we would love to hear from you!

Contact us at and share your desire to be a participant in the Farm to School movement!  Already working on farm to school? Share what is happening in your area of Illinois and help us to promote farm to school across our state!