USDA Rural Development Speaks to the Importance of Local, Regional Foods

Kate O'Hara
Release Date
Mar 16, 2015

Southwestern Illinois Conference held in Godfrey, Illinois Details Ways to Get Involved

The local food movement is becoming an established part of the overall marketplace, and beyond healthy benefits for human nutrition, provides increased economic health and strength to participating communities.  A local food conference held in Godfrey, Illinois on March 31 is designed to help area producers, entrepreneurs, communities and consumers explore the many ways to participate in the movement.

“Expanding access to local and regional foods is a priority for USDA, and it is reflected in the investment programs that we bring to the table,” said Colleen Callahan, IL Rural Development Director. “As opportunities for people to buy locally-produced food increase to meet the growing demand, opportunities for community economic development also expand.”

The interest in local farmers markets, farm-to-table, CSAs, local food availability, and many other related topics is trending all over the country, and Callahan will be bringing the message of USDA Rural Development support to the upcoming Opportunities in Local and Regional Foods Conference held in Godfrey, Illinois. It is the region’s first local foods conference.

The Alton Area Business Development Association (AABDA) has teamed up with Lewis & Clark Community College (LCCC) to host the local food conference at the college on March 31, 2015 from 7:30am until 12:30pm. The cost is $15.00 when purchased online at and $20.00 at the door.

According to event planner Ron Tanner of BiG iDEA Workshops, “If you’re a farmer, nutritionist, food producer, entrepreneur, restaurant owner, caterer, economic developer, food retailer, food distributor, hospital, school district, senior living institution, government official, or anyone interested in growing their business or community through local food, you should get a front row seat!”

The Opportunities in Local and Regional Foods Conference will feature speakers from the Illinois Farm Bureau, USDA Rural Development, and other partners including Illinois-Metro East Small Business Development Center, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Madison County Community Development, BiG iDEA Workshops, U of I Extension, Trailnet, Feast Magazine, and St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Local speakers from the Alton-Godfrey area will discuss their projects involving local food.

Attendees will learn what is happening; what could happen; how one can influence those outcomes; and where to get more information about the new economy of local foods. Refreshments are provided by LCCC Catering using fresh cheese and yogurt products from local producers Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, and Windcrest Dairy in Trenton, Illinois.

Alton Area Business Development Association, the event organizer and host is a 501(c)3 non-profit economic and community development organization whose mission is to support our local economy through small business incubation, a local food hub, commercial kitchen rental, and the arts.  The Great Rivers Market Fresh Network, online at, is the brand created to facilitate this mission. This Network is the emerging home to a growing community of entrepreneurs, chefs, food fans and artisans of all kinds, designers, mentors, educators and much more. It is designed around three interconnected business development components, each sustaining the other, to incubate new and accelerate existing businesses.

You can purchase event tickets, or contact AABDA via, or email at: or by phone at 618-551-5020.