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March 31, 2017
The USDA and EPA announced a national goal to halve food waste by 2030 in the United States – an incredible public signal of the importance of this issue. And the Rockefeller Foundation is dedicating $130 million over seven years to halving food loss and waste globally. Local governments are also committing to reducing food waste and are creating a favorable environment for new partnerships to flourish. Cities, including some in The Foundation’s network of 100 Resilient Cities, are increasingly vocal about the need for better data on wasted food. At the same time, cities are beginning to realize the many ways reducing food waste can create value for them and their residents – be it cost savings, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, economic development, or increased food availability.
 

The rooftop “solar reserve” of Midwestern cities (the solar equivalent of oil and gas “reserves”) is a vast and largely untapped local energy resource.  Rooftop solar resources could, with current technology, generate an equivalent of 25 – 70% of the total local annual electric use in most cities. To help cities tap these resources, the Grow Solar Partnership, a multi-state, U.S. Department of Energy funded effort led by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association works to remove barriers and create opportunities for local solar development. 

Most Illinoisans are becoming accustomed to the variations in weather and temperature that make it difficult to know when winter is over and when spring has arrived. But what do the temperature variations do to our trees, shrubs, and other plants? University of Illinois Extension Educator Chris Enroth said, "Plants during the winter are dormant, slowing or suspending their processes. Over the eons, plants have encountered warm winter weather, triggering growth, which then is killed off when the winter weather returns. To counter the issue, many of our plants developed a chilling requirement. Chilling requirements, often measured in hours, are a period of time during which the plant must be exposed to cold weather (typically below 45 degrees Fahrenheit) to bring the plant out of dormancy. If your apple tree in the backyard requires 1,000 chilling hours, it is a safe bet these warm temperatures are not going to be enough to trigger growth. However, if your peach tree (a notably more southern crop) has a chilling requirement of 400 hours, you may want to invest in some winter protection for the possible emergence of flowers."
Delta Regional Authority has grants to help communities create jobs and improve infrastructure through the SEDAP program. Applications are due May 31. Illinois counties in the Mississippi River Delta are within the target region. For more information, see the SEDAP application guidelines.
UPCOMING EVENTS

March 31 - Rural Business Development Grant deadline
April 6 - Local Food Lobby Day, Springfield, IL
May 31 - SEDAP application deadline
June 11-14, 2017 Community Development Society Conference, Big Sky, MT
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