With more than 7,300 restaurants and more than 46.2 million visitors annually, it is not surprising that Chicago is considered a top US culinary and hospitality city. But the story does not end there. In fact, food and agriculture represent one out of every 17 jobs in Illinois and almost 10 percent of the state’s economic output, totaling $120.9 billion dollars. As global trends in food service increasingly focus on concepts like “farm to fork” and sustainable practices that not only reduce harm to our communities but also reinvest in them, it’s no wonder that Illinois, Chicago and Kendall College are together looking at new ways to ensure sustained and innovative leadership across the entire food and agriculture system.
Recently, an organization called FARM Illinois (Food and Agriculture Road Map for Illinois) teamed up with respected leaders around the state to develop and share a transparent plan to meet the 21st century challenges of global and local food security.
Particularly of interest to those considering or pursuing a degree in culinary arts may be the goal and strategies developed around workforce and education, which you can view on the FARM Illinois website. In summary, the FARM Illinois team recognizes the importance of a highly-qualified workforce in the food and agriculture sector as a twofold necessity. First, this is a requirement to sustain the growth of food service and the farms that source food and raw materials to local businesses. Second, this is also a requirement to drive growth—without an understanding of how to engage, train and satisfy a new generation of professionals, the food and agriculture industry will not quickly adapt to evolving trends and technology.
As one of the early partners in this endeavor, Kendall College was proud to welcome FARM Illinois to campus and host a roadmap rollout briefing in the City of Chicago. According to Kendall College host, Kim Shambrook, director of professional education and community outreach, “Kendall College has a rich history in the Chicago community as a leading provider of culinary education and the opportunity to work with and welcome FARM Illinois to our campus is a privilege we embrace with open arms on behalf of current and future generations of leaders in the food sector. We are passionate about elevating an industry central to the Chicago and Illinois economies both as a dedicated member of these local and global communities and as an institutional advocate for our students.”
Another positive note for culinary students and individuals looking for careers in food—in the words of Robert A. Easter, chairman of the FARM Illinois Leadership Council and president emeritus of the University of Illinois, “This plan represents not an end, but a beginning!”