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Beyond the food bank: Summer food program aims to feed stomachs and minds

University of Illinois student Anna Yee reports on a summer lunch program that teaches as it feeds.

Anna Yee/ Children in a classroom.

Growing Local: Community perspectives

Editor’s note:

Over the past eight months, Urbana city officials, including the mayor and the city’s community development department, have worked with residents in the Lierman Neighborhood to help secure land and water for a community garden on the corners of Lierman and Washington streets. We asked resident Robin Arbiter to talk more about the garden and its goals and challenges.


By Robin Arbiter

Participant, Lierman Neighborhood Action Committee

Our neighborhood is one in which there are many health, wellness and safety issues.

Pam G. Dempsey/Residents from the Lierman Neighborhood plan to turn this vacant lot into a community garden. The garden will provide fresh produce in an area where grocery stores are more than a walk away.

Growing Local: Videos

The local foods movement is on the rise in Champaign-Urbana and with it an increase in healthy cooking classes, neighborhood farmer's markets and community gardens. These video stories show firsthand the impact local foods have on the community. 

These stories are part of Illinois Public Media's Day of Broadcasting on local food, July 19, 2012. For a list of programming that day, visit here


Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/Randolph Street Community Garden

Growing Local: Local foods movement increases in Champaign-Urbana

By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess

Urbana resident Clark McPhail likes fresh food.

So nearly every Saturday in the summer, he bikes to Urbana’s Market at the Square and browses among the dozens of vendors to shop for fruits and vegetables.

“In the summertime, 70 percent of our vegetable produce I buy here from the farmer’s market or Common Ground,” McPhail said.


Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/More than 6,000 people visit Urbana's Market at the Square each weekend. The farmer's market is one of the largest in the state and provides consumers with direct access to dozens of local farmers.

Growing Local: Rise in farmers' markets, community gardens fuel economy, discussion and needs

Approximately 95 percent of the food we eat in Illinois comes from someplace else. 



The farmland in Illinois is some of the richest in the nation and the state’s economy is one of the worst.

A growing number of people in central Illinois are working together to build clusters of regional food businesses to aid economic recovery and increase residents’ access to fresh food. 

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George Hovorka/Illinois Public Media

Fifth health inspection failure threatens food service permit of Campustown restaurant

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess -- Five restaurants failed their health inspections between March and May of this year.

For Geovanti’s Bar and Grill, 401 E. Green St. in Urbana, it was the fifth failure in a row and one that netted the restaurant an immediate suspension.

The restaurant scored an “8” on a routine inspection on March 13. Scores below 35 are considered failing and scores below 0 warrant an immediate closure until the health code violations are corrected.

File photo/Landon Cassman/CU-CitizenAccess -- Geovanti's Bar & Grill failed its fifth straight public health inspection in March and faced a permanent loss of its food service permit.

Local health officials continue to discuss publicizing restaurant inspections

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess –  Public health officials continue to give failing scores to restaurants in Champaign County each month, but after more than three years of study they still have not decided how to make those inspections routinely public.

Most recently, Champaign County Board of Health members said they wanted to wait for a national food protection group to issue recommendations after it met in Indianapolis in April. The recommendations would have guided health officials on how to make inspections public.

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File photo/Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

Health officials temporarily shutter 2 restaurants, fail 7 others during February inspections

By Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess -- Inspectors temporarily shut down Chinese restaurant Cravings in February after the Campustown establishment failed its fourth straight public health inspection.

Cravings, 603 S. Wright St., Champaign, was one of nine eateries to fail a February inspection by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. (See the complete list of February inspection failures below.) Restaurants fail when they score 35 or lower on the district’s 100-point scale. The inspections are conducted on a routine basis because poor sanitary conditions can lead to food-borne illnesses.

Landon Cassman/CU-CitizenAccess -- Champaign-Urbana Public Health District inspectors suspended the health permits of two restaurants and gave failing scores to seven others during February inspections.

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