"We envision healthier communities by connecting residents with local food,
teaching them about the benefits of nutritious food,
and showing them how to prepare that food."
JDLF Gives vision statement
What is JDLF Gives?
JDLF Gives is the charitable arm of Jo Daviess Local Foods. It's a non-profit committee working in a partnership with our fiscal agent, the Community Foundation of Jo Daviess County. JDLF Gives will expand access to sustainable local food through the Farm to Food Pantry program (more info below) and other programs in the future.
“The Farm to Food Pantry program is just the beginning,” said Cindy Tegtmeyer, committee chair. “The partnership with the Community Foundation will help us grow this program and start new programs. We want to move beyond the idea that any food is good food. If we are providing people in need with unhealthy food, that simply compounds their problems.”
JDLF Gives will have a fund at the Community Foundation to support their mission to expand access to sustainable food. The fund was started with a grant that JDLF Gives received for the Farm to Food Pantry program.
“We’re excited to work with JDLF and the community to build a fund that helps bring more healthy choices to food pantries throughout Jo Daviess County,” said Eric Dregne, the Community Foundation’s president.
Anyone can contribute to the JDLF Gives fund, in any amount. Make a gift online on the Community Foundation website or by mailing a check to: Community Foundation of Jo Daviess County, P.O. Box 77, Elizabeth, IL 61028 (with JDLF Gives in the check memo).
Committee members of JDLF Gives:
Cindy Tegtmeyer - Chairperson
Lynda Birkel - Secretary
Erin Keyser - Treasurer
Farm to Food Pantry
Article by Cindy Tegtmeyer
In May 2020, I was out for a walk with my dog in lovely Galena, Illinois, listening to one of my vegan-friendly health podcasts, the topic of which was regenerative farming and the importance of local, organic food. Afterward, when I posted on Facebook, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the food produced in Jo Daviess County fed the people in Jo Daviess County?” my friend Jen shared the link for Jo Daviess Local Foods (JDLF) and replied, “We’re trying!!”
JDLF is an online farmers market that delivers local food throughout Jo Daviess County, Illinois. Its mission is to expand access to sustainable local food for the benefit of the community, economy, and environment. Founded in 2018 with eight producers, it has since grown to include 28 producers. As the only farmers market in the county that operates every week, year-round, it offers a very important service to our community, connecting people with a wide variety of food and locally made products.
JDLF only accepts farmers who use environmentally friendly practices. They limit packaging waste whenever possible, using upcycled “t-shirt bags” and granting shopping credits to customers who return glass jars or bottles so that producers can wash and reuse them. Of course, by strengthening local food systems, they also reduce the need for long-distance shipping, thus reducing the carbon footprint.
Discovering JDLF from my friend Jen was a moment of great serendipity for me, and I wanted to get involved. She introduced me to Erin Keyser, the local food maven and organizational queen behind JDLF, and soon after that I was volunteering to sort veggies every Tuesday and to promote the market on social media, posting photos of my plant-based meals made with local, organic produce.
JDLF has been especially important for producer income and consumer convenience during the pandemic. Orders have tripled in recent months! Still, there are more possibilities for us to increase our positive impact. As much as I’ve enjoyed volunteering, and my family has enjoyed the delicious local vegetables and fruit, I couldn’t help but think about what was missing—or rather who was missing out: what about the folks in the area who don’t have the means to participate?
Around the same time, after earning my Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (CNS) and eCornell, I learned about the CNS Community Leads Service Initiative. Another moment of serendipity! We applied for a grant to fund a Farm to Food Pantry program, which, with Erin’s spirit and drive, we were able to pilot in December 2020. JDLF customers generously donated about $1500, which paid local farmers for over 1300 pounds of fresh produce. The produce went to five different food pantries in the county, benefiting more than 100 local families.
With the help of grassroots local support and the grant money from CNS, JDLF will be able to continue the Farm to Food Pantry program during the summer and fall of 2021. We will select one or two food pantries per week and deliver at least $200 of fresh local organic produce and grains. We believe everyone should have access to the foods that produce health and reverse illness. Individuals and families struggling to make ends meet should not have to settle for cheap, sugary, nutrient-deficient “fruit” cups when their community has the will and ability to provide fresh, nutrient-dense watermelon grown sustainably on their neighborhood farm.
Practical education is also vital to making this program sustainable. That’s why, along with each week’s produce selections, we will include cooking directions and easy whole food, plant-based recipes. We also plan to host cooking classes that double as soup kitchens in the fall, teaching the community how to make delicious plant-based food that is healthy for both people and the environment.
Ultimately, the Farm to Food Pantry project helps us expand our reach into lower income communities while continuing to champion local farmers who are committed to sustainable, organic methods. We’re excited to nurture its continued growth!
A typical Tuesday inside the Elizabeth Community Building as we sort customers' orders and get ready to deliver.
Cindy Tegtmeyer sorting massive amounts of rhubarb!
Thank you, CNS, for your $5000 grant which will allow us to continue the Farm to Food Pantry program in 2021!