Encourages State Agencies to Buy from Local Providers
CHICAGO – March 18, 2011. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon attended the opening symposium of the Family Farmed Expo today where she spoke about the importance of local food systems and highlighted efforts being made by the state to incorporate more local products and providers into everyday use by state agencies.
“Ensuring that healthy, hearty and nutritious food is available to the people of Illinois is a great priority,” Lt. Governor Simon said. “When we increase the amount of goods that are produced and purchased locally, we will not only spur job growth and creation, but also promote healthy lifestyles.”
An overall increase in local production, processing and purchasing by 20 percent would generate $20 billion to $30 billion of new, annual and sustainable economic activity in Illinois. As Chairwoman of the Rural Affairs Council, Simon will lead the coordinated efforts of the council and the Local Food, Farm and Jobs Council to encourage state-funded agencies that spend more than $25,000 on food annually to purchase 10 percent of their food or food products from local providers by 2020.
“Buying local is the hottest trend in the food industry right now and with the help of Lt. Governor Simon, Illinois is taking strides to capitalize on this movement,” says Jim Slama, president of FamilyFarmed.org.
The annual Family Farmed Expo features a trade show, policy conference and other workshops geared toward farmers, consumers and sellers of locally grown food in the state. Farm to school initiatives will be highlighted throughout this year’s Expo with the intention of pairing public schools with local farms to provide food for school lunches. Based on this idea, the Chicago Public School system purchased over $1.8 million in food from regional farmers last year.
“Locally-grown, fresh food in our schools is becoming more prevalent, but I am working for it to become common practice,” Simon said. “Not only will a healthy meal help our students focus and learn, but we can also boost our economy and create sustainable jobs.”