School District U-46 has a Garden Program and Needs Your Support!

School District U-46 has a Garden Program and Needs Your Support!

  • Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Kane County Development and Community Services Department Matt Tansley.

Exciting things are happening at the School District U-46 Food and Nutrition Service headquarters in Elgin!

This summer the district broke ground on a sizeable vegetable garden plot on the open space next to their food service distribution center. The “Going Green with U-46” initiative is focused on building a new pipeline of fresh vegetables for U-46 students.

The produce grown this season will supplement the fruits and vegetables served at the garden bars (salad bars) in operation at five district schools.

The district is planning to add 10 new garden bars within the coming year. As it grows, it is hoped that the Going Green program will be an added source of fresh produce for the district’s summer feeding program.

Food Service Director Elena Hildreth and Food Service Manager Amelia Rothstein partnered with local farmer and community member Mike Kenyon to envision a way to serve kids locally grown fresh produce.

“Feeding the students our produce from tomatoes to herbs is going to be very exciting this fall,” Rothstein said. “We hope to reach the students to develop their understanding of sustainable gardening while providing nutrient rich food.”

The garden team has managed to plant a large portion of the garden area with seedling sunflowers, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, basil, cilantro, and cucumbers. However, there is still room available for additional plantings that will be harvested this fall.

The district has also partnered with the Association for Individual Development, a service organization for adults and children with developmental / traumatic disabilities, to create garden learning and volunteer opportunities for their clients.

The district is making an appeal to area residents and community organizations to donate needed supplies or cash. Some short-term needs include a storage shed, hoses, and assorted garden tools.

The program administrators will also be seeking grant-writing assistance to grow and sustain the program for seasons to come.

The district is also open to corporate sponsorship opportunities for businesses looking to make a positive impact in the community. Interested supporters / donors should contact Elena Hildreth, director of Food and Nutrition Services, at 847-888-5000 x5036 or

The U-46 Food and Nutrition Service facility serves 57 district schools, including 41 elementary schools, five high schools, and two schools with summer breakfast programs.

For updates and photos, visit the Going Green program webpage.