Chicago Public Schools Chief of Nutrition Leslie Fowler (left) and Director of ETHS Nutrition Services Kim Minestra, pictured at the Top Box for Schools Launch Party in September at The Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central Street.                         Photo by Heidi Randhava

In October, Top Box for Schools completed its first delivery of boxes of fresh produce and locally sourced meats to Evanston Township High School (ETHS). The program, designed to bring healthy, affordable food to Chicago area communities, is the result of a collaboration of Chicago nonprofit Top Box Foods, Evanston-based FarmLogix, and Indiana farming hub This Old Farm. Prices are below retail, accomplished by buying wholesale and relying on a loyal volunteer base. The partnership with ETHS is focused on increasing access to local, high quality food and reinvesting in the Evanston community by donating 15% of the proceeds back to ETHS student clubs, who volunteer to bring boxes to peers, teachers, and parents on delivery day.

“We’re thrilled to expand into the Evanston area,” said Top Box’s Executive Director Sheila Kennedy. “Our goal has always been to provide healthy and affordable food for all, and bringing that vision to Evanston while supporting local farmers and students is a great fit for our mission.”

Each month, selections of meat are provided by local farmers and packed in boxes, including local pork, local chicken, local beef, and the local Farm Meat Box. Fresh produce is available in boxes such as the Fruit Box and the Organic Vegetable Box. At its first delivery, Top Box for Schools distributed 57 boxes of food to teachers, parents, and students. About $180 in proceeds was donated back to ETHS student clubs, including Books
“R” Us, E-Squad Step Team, DREAMers Club, and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Junior Chapter (SHPEjr).

Kim Minestra, Director of Nutrition Services at ETHS, said the partnership is beneficial for all parties. “We’re excited to support local businesses like FarmLogix, Top Box, the local farmers who provided the products, and bring quality foods to the community while fundraising for student groups,” said Ms. Minestra.

The program is designed to be accessible for the entire Evanston community. Customers place their orders online and pay ahead of time or at pick up at ETHS on the first Wednesday of each month. Joanne Bertsche, ETHS Educational Foundation Executive Director, said, “Love the convenience of picking up good, wholesome food right at my work place!”

Top Box for Schools was initiated when Top Box Foods, FarmLogix, and This Old Farm teamed up to win grant funds awarded in the 2016 Food to Market Challenge. Ten Chicago Public Schools are launching the program this month. To place an order, go to

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.