Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and its foodservice management company, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, along with McCormick Place convention center and Midway Airport, have committed to increasing the amount of locally grown produce they serve. The announcement was made at the Trade Show, School Food and Policy Summit of the three-day Good Food Festival and Conference at the University of Illinois Chicago Forum. The event is staged by FamilyFarmed.org, a non-profit that advocates for sustainable agriculture and small farmers and which played a leading role in securing the commitments.
CPS projects a 35 percent increase in its use of locally-grown and sustainable food items in coordination with Chartwells-Thompson. This will expand its local/sustainable program to all schools in a system that serves about 400,000 meals a day in the nation’s third-largest school food program.
The increase will build upon the school system’s purchase of more than $4.2 million in produce from regional farmers that has been served to students over the past three school years. CPS also provided a major success for the sustainable food movement when it became the first major U.S. school district to serve chicken grown without the use of antibiotics.
Chartwells-Thompson also announced that it will expand its local/sustainable food program to its divisions in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. “We want people to make better decisions, live longer and take care of the environment,” says Regional VP Travis Young. “We can change the way things are done in this country if enough of us get together to do it.”
McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America, is committed to obtaining 15 percent of all of its food from local and sustainable sources, and would seek to obtain 50 percent of its produce during the upper Midwest growing season from local and/or organic growers. “Our goal is to be the most sustainable convention center in the United States,” says Kevin Jezewski, a manager for Savor Chicago, the food service provider at McCormick Place.
Midway, which has 16 restaurants on-site, has set a goal of securing 10 percent of all the food served there from local, organic and antibiotic-free sources, says Larry Acton, vice president of development for the airport’s food-services division.