Increasing the Use of Farm Fresh Food in Institutional Settings by Educating Chefs, Youth, and Local Farmers through Demonstrations, Workshops, and Visual References

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2017: $7,448.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Hendrick House Farms
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Ann Swanson
Hendrick House

Information Products


  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peppers, radishes (culinary), cucurbits, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: crop rotation, fertigation, irrigation
  • Education and Training: demonstration, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic, row covers (for pests)
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:


    There is a large disconnect between utilizing fresh, local food in kitchens and institutionalized cooking. Institutionalized food is the forgotten part of the food revolution, where pre-packaged, processed foods are being served instead of fresh, homemade food. Processed food is cheap and nutritional guidelines are easier to track and maintain. Also, foodservice employees have little to no training so it is easier to serve pre-made food that takes less preparatory skill.

    Youth have developed palettes for pre-processed food because that is what they are being served. According to a study by the CDC in 2007-2010 93% of children didn’t eat enough vegetables. According to the CDC in 2010 68.8% of adults were considered to be overweight or obese. There is a direct correlation with eating unhealthy foods and being overweight in this country. People are far removed from their food source and do not understand the health benefits, quality and taste of locally grown food.

    Local farmers are affected because the general population does not connect with the importance of increasing economic viability for these farmers. Small farms are faced with volume challenges when supplying large dining facilities.

    Solving this problem is important to our operation because we are in the unique position of bringing change necessary to revamping the institutionalized food system, since Hendrick House is producing healthy food on its farm. Providing quality food and creating awareness with chefs, youth and other farmers and our community is the mission of our farm. As more chefs in the company purchase Hendrick House farm produce, our farm viability will also increase. It starts with education from all sides of the food chain. If we can change the way a generation looks at food, then it will have a lifetime impact for farmers, individuals, and the community.


    There are four population sectors I am targeting to implement the proposed educational project. The first sector is youth in the community. I plan to hold three one-hour workshops to demonstrate farming in the stages of planting, harvesting and consuming. My goal is to show youths where their food is grown and the difference in quality between food off the farm and processed food. I will work with University of Illinois Extension leading youth workshops and educating children on the importance of farm fresh food.

    The second sector will be food service workers. I intend to assemble a workbook to be used as a field guide to educate them in health benefits and proper storage and also provide them with recipes to build on when transitioning to farm fresh cooking during four workshops three hours long, twice a year. During these workshops we will be writing menus for upcoming semesters with the hope that chefs will order more local food and we will discuss reducing food waste using more in house processing methods.

    The third sector I will be targeting is farmers. I intend to work with The Land Connection in educational workshops for local farmers from a “chef’s point of view.” I will also be reaching farmers through presentations at state wide conferences with the intent to increase business for local farms by sharing my knowledge on how to interact with chefs, packaging and receiving and what chefs look for regarding quality and reliability.

    The fourth sector I plan to target is the general public. I will be publishing articles in the New Illinois Farmers listserv, Illinois Fruit and Vegetable newsletter and The Land Connection Newsletter. I will also educate the community through social media, websites and weekly blog posts to increase the use and purchase of locally produced food.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Provide farm-to-table education to foodservice providers, youth, farmers and the local community to encourage moving away from prepackaged, pre-processed, unhealthy food that institutionalized kitchens often provide and promote the importance of supporting local farms in the community.
    2. Positively impact the environment by reducing food waste through educating chefs on in-house processing and educating children about how to use, procure and grow food.
    3. Empower local farmers economically by educating chefs to buy local and educating farmers on how GAP practices and certification increase on-farm efficiency and demand for products, increasing sustainable farm viability.
    4. Benefit consumers and the community, especially youth and foodservice workers, by educating them about the health benefits and values of local, fresh food.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.