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It’s Harvest time. Leaves and temperatures are falling while local farms are prepping for next spring. One farm program in Rockford particularly catches our attention. It’s growing more than organic fruits and veggies — it’s also growing young leaders.
The Angelic Organic Learning Center runs the Roots & Wings Youth Leadership Program, which motivates, educates and inspires young people to be leaders in their communities, all while teaching them to grow, farm and sell organic vegetables. It is for kids and teens aged 12 to 18, who, once accepted into the program, spend up to 25 hours per week farming, selling and/or cooking. They also are rewarded based on how well they live up to the program's five core behaviors: respect, initiative, timeliness, preparedness and participation.
We at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois are proud to support the program with a $15,000 grant. In October 2014, two of our Rockford employees presented a plaque highlighting the grant to the Angelic Organics staff at their urban farm in the Rockwell Courts Housing Project. We share a mission of supporting healthy eating and are proud to invest in a program that also helps teens.
The collaboration between BCBSIL and Angelic Organics doesn't end there. During summer of 2014, Angelic Organics set up a farm stand at Blue Cross to sell fresh produce directly to employees. It was a big hit and some employees even signed up to receive weekly or biweekly boxes of fresh, organic produce.
BCBSIL employee Deborah Acosta signed up mostly out of convenience. “I love to eat fresh vegetables and often don't find the time to stop by a farm stand or store on my way home. I was excited to receive my weekly share of fresh vegetables delivered to the office each week,” she says. “It did open me up to trying vegetables that I otherwise would not have tried. And I absolutely loved having a variety of fresh veggies to put in my salads.”So next time you’re shopping for healthy, organic fruits and veggies (like you always do — right… right?), take a moment to pause and think that while that food is fueling your body, it could also be fueling a better future for a leader in the making in Rockford.Originally published on Nov. 6, 2014.
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