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Food Summit Scheduled in Peoria

Posted by Kathie Brown -


In response to the growing trend toward sustainable local food systems, University of Illinois Extension, along with other partners, will hold a food policy summit on Feb. 22 in Peoria, Ill.

"Sustainable local food systems balance economic prosperity, environmental preservation, and public health while moving agricultural products from farmer to consumer," said Kathleen Brown, a U of I Extension community and economic development educator. "National, regional, and local trends indicate a shift in farming practices and consumer demand, as well as present an opportunity for the greater Peoria region to capitalize on this growing economic sector."

The first Greater Peoria Regional Food Policy Summit will bring together a large group of stakeholders, including the public, to discuss opportunities for sustainable economic development through the regional food system; how to improve public school meals; and why food policy can be an engine for health, economic growth, and social justice in this community and nationally, Brown explained.

Registration for the summit is $15, and can be completed online at A light lunch and continental-style breakfast will be provided.The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at theRiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center, 600 NE Water St, Peoria, Ill. 61603.

The opening presentation at 9 a.m. will include:

Julie Ristau, Co-Director, On the Commons: As part of the organization's leadership team that works to apply commons-based approaches to real-worldproblems, she has been instrumental in the development of Homegrown Minneapolis.Her presentation will highlight strategies at work and expanding the community's ability to develop locally grown foods systems.

Gayle Prest, Sustainability Director, City of Minneapolis: Gayle has been with the Minneapolis sustainability office since 2006 and will discuss how Minnesota provides a unique approach to urban sustainability. At the top of her list are issues of similar concern to the region; air emissions, Asian carp, and local foods systems. She will discuss sustainable Minneapolis policies and programs at work.

Kristine Igo, Associate Institute Director, Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute,
University of Minnesota: In her work, she is focused on increasing and sustaining the university's impact in the interdisciplinary arena of food, agriculture, and health by building the research, learning, and community engagement. Her discussion will provide a model for engaging university partners and development of local funding strategies.

Following the presentation, participants will engage in a World Café -style discussion identifying opportunities for development in the local foods movement within the region.

Discussion will be moderated by members of the U of I Extension small farms and local foods system, community and economic development teams, as well as the U of I College of Fine and Applied Arts.

Sponsors include Peoria County Board, City of Peoria, Peoria LISC, Peoria County Health Department, Peoria County Farm Bureau, Illinois Department of Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture Program, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program, U of I Extension, and U of I Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

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