4th Annual Food Policy Summit

Today I went to the 4th Annual Food Policy Summit held at the Chicago Cultural Center as a volunteer for Healthy South Chicago Coalition, although in all honesty there wasn’t much “volunteering” to do.

Chicago Fod Policy Advisory Council

The organization’s mission is “…to facilitate the development of responsible policies that improve access for Chicago residents to culturally appropriate, nutritionally sound, and affordable food that is grown through environmentally sustainable practices.”

The moderator, if memory serves me correctly, was the person who moderated the meeting I sat in on back in late February/early March.  (If my facts are wrong, just remember I’m not a real news reporter, I just like to pass on good information).

They had as opening presenters the City Clerk, Miguel del Valle, who spoke about putting policy information on-line so that it is accessible to the individual.  There was a time you had to go and search the physical council meeting books and go through pages and pages of documents to find out how votes were cast, now there is a searchable database at the City’s website.

There was Manny Flores, Alderman of the 1st Ward who talked about the issue of restrictive land use covenants that leave neighborhoods without access to grocery stores when the bigger stores pull out of the neighborhoods and dictate how the land can be used when they’re gone.  He also talked about a TIF Sunshine Ordinance that would “…force city government to post all TIF documents, from weekly payroll filings to annual reports, on a city-funded website,” allowing Joe Public to see how the city is allocating TIF funds.

Then there were presentations given by:

  • Anupama Joshi, Co-Directof of the National Farm to School Network
  • Lynn Peemoeller, a Food Systems Planner
  • Jim Braun, founder of what is now the Illinois Local Food and Farms Coalition.
  • Aaron Durnbaugh, Deputy Commissioner of the Natural Resources and Water Quality Division within the Chicago Department of Environment
  • Dinah Ramirez, Executive Director of Healthy South Chicago Coalition
  • Karen Lehman, Director of The Fresh Taste Initiative
  • Rodger Cooley, USA Program Policy Senior Specialist, Heifer International

After lunch we had break-out sessions. 

  • Farm to School:  Making Chicago’s school food fresh, healthy and local
  • Urban Agriculture:  Growing more food in the city
  • Farmers Markets:  Creating and sustaining successful and affordable farmers markets
  • Institutional Buying:  Government agencies and other institutions (for example, hospitals) buy products from local farmers
  • Food Access:  Bringing fresh and local food into Chicago’s retail and corner stores
  • Health & Just Communities:  Promoting health equality through neighborhood-based food and fitness initiatives
  • Food Advocacy in Chicago:  Tools for getting green things done with city government

I got a chance to meet an actual celebrity, not a celebrity once removed.  (Nothing wrong with being a celebrity once removed).  Got to meet in the sense of I said, “May I take your picture?”  He said yes.  I said, “Is it okay to put it on my blog?”  He said yes.

04-08-09_Chef Rick Bayless

Chef Rick Bayless, whose cooking show I watch on my beloved Create TV, Public Television 11.3 here in Chicago, was the keynote speaker.  He related how when he first opened his restaurant in 1987 he wanted to do something to make himself stand out from other restaurants.  What started as a desire to prepare a special dish using strawberries for his restaurant patrons has evolved into having a rooftop garden where heirloom tomatoes and chili peppers are grown and used by the restaurant in addition to another garden that produces the greens that the restaurant uses. 

The quest for the strawberries so many years ago lead to developing relationships with local farmers who grew produce for the resturant.  He recounted the spinach story about the farmer who had this great spinach he grew in a low tunnel.  He only had one low tunnel, and Chef Bayless struck a deal where he’d front the money for the second low tunnel in exchange for the spinach it produced.  That has evolved into a non-profit organization, the Frontera Farmer Foundation, that makes grants to small farmers.

It was a long but interesting day.

Happy Gardening!!!

I almost forgot.  They served the best tea I have ever tasted in my life.  It was Jasmine Pearl Organic tea by Rishi.  In my humble opinion the packing was not really eco friendly, but I don’t know if that’s a Rishi thing or the caterers  If the taste of tea could be beautiful, that was some beautiful tea.



  1. jbest123 said,

    April 9, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Cheryl, your RSS feed is not working. I get the message ‘This feed contains code error’ when I try to link to your page.


  2. gardengoodies said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I’m not exactly sure what a RSS feed really is. Is it where if you’re on somebody’s blog list it shows a summary of their post? I went over to Granny’s page and clicked my link and it worked.

    If it’s still not working, would you let me know? I’ll get in touch with the support people.

    Thanks for giving me a heads up

    • jbest123 said,

      April 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm



      • gardengoodies said,

        April 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm

        Hi, John:
        I’m just seeing an image code that I can’t click on. Are you seeing the same thing?

  3. jbest123 said,

    April 10, 2009 at 4:29 am

    Those are screen captures of what I get when I click on your RSS feed.


  4. jbest123 said,

    April 10, 2009 at 4:31 am

    It still is not working.


    • gardengoodies said,

      April 10, 2009 at 6:41 am

      Thanks again for letting me know. I’ll send an e-mail to customer support so they can let me know what’s wrong.

  5. Deborah said,

    April 10, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for the post. We have lived in a food desert for years. Your post is the first I’ve heard about restrictive land use from former grocers. Your inclusive and transparent informative data is more than resourceful. It can be used on many levels. I thank you.

    It’s good someone is informing the low-income members of the community what’s going on. We are Lake Park East Tenants Association, lpeta4532@gmail.com.

    • gardengoodies said,

      April 10, 2009 at 9:46 am

      You’re very welcome. I had never heard of the restrictive land use issue either. I remember years ago they closed I think it was Jewels on 47th near Ashland, and I always wondered why it stayed vacant so long. This might explain it.

      There are so many food related organizations in Chicago. Check out the Advocates for Urban Agriculture link under Useful Information. They’ve got tons of, well, useful information.

      If you haven’t already, I highly urge you to start a garden. It doesn’t have to be that complicated and you can learn along the way.

  6. April 15, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    […] Write-up on Chicago’s Fourth Annual Food Policy Summit, by Cheryl’s Garden Goodies; […]

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