FHN Gala at Wagner House on 11/17/2017

The annual FHN Communi-sino Gala and Festival of Trees will take place on Friday, 11/17 from 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm at the Wagner House. Pretzel City Kitchens (also located within the Wagner House) will be highlighted at the event and will be able to be toured by attendees.

Tickets for the Gala are available at the door for $50.

Illinois Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification Classes

Illinois Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification Classes

Freeport, IL—The University of Illinois Extension will offer an Illinois Food Service Sanitation Manager Course (FSSMC) December 11 and December 14. This two-part class will meet the 8-hour coursework and examination required by the state of Illinois for both the initial FSSMC, and the re-certification.

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Food Service Sanitation Code requires food establishments to be under the operational supervision of a certified food service sanitation manager during hours of operation. This code helps to ensure the safety of consumers when eating away from home. Those receiving this certification have specialized training, by an Illinois approved instructor, regarding the safe handling, preparation and storage of food to help prevent foodborne related illnesses. The certificate is valid for five years from the exam date and then process is repeated once a certificate expires.

During this two-day class, participants will gain knowledge about food safety and contamination, employee health and hygiene, safe food handling practices, cleaning and sanitizing, and HACCP.

The class will take place on December 11, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PMAND December 14, from 9:00 AM – 2:30 PM at the Stephenson County Farm Bureau, located at 210 W. Spring St, Freeport, IL. Participants should bring a valid photo ID and arrive 15 minutes early to register, as class will begin promptly at 9:00 AM. Participants must attend the full training to be eligible to take the exam.

There is a $100.00 program fee to cover the educational session, which covers the book, educational materials, examination and lunch. Preregistration is required due to limited space. You can contact our office by calling the Extension office at (815) 235-2472 or visit us online at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/jswAfter successful completion of this course, you will then need to pay an additional $35 to the Illinois Department of Public Health to receive your certificate.

Diane Reinhold is a University of Illinois Extension, Nutrition and Wellness Educator and registered dietitian. For more about upcoming programming on nutrition and wellness, visithttp://web.extension.illinois.edu/jsw or call 815-235-4125.

PCK Info Meetings draw potential users

On March 8th and March 10th of 2017, Pretzel City Kitchens held informational meetings for potential users. In attendance were representatives from PCK, the Small Business Collaborative, and the Stephenson County Health Department. Potential users were informed of the process for getting started with PCK, abiding by health department regulations, and developing a small business. Thank you to all who attended!

FHN Fall Gala

FHN held their Festival of Trees Gala Casino on 11/19/2016 with over 300 guests in attendance. Pretzel City Kitchens was proud to be represented by CareerTEC’s Culinary Occupations students, who prepared caramel fudge, peach cobbler, and oatmeal cookies from locally sourced ingredients.

Freeport Art Museum Fall Gala

Pretzel City Kitchens was promoted at the Freeport Art Museum Fall Gala on 10/29/2016 by the presence of CareerTEC’s Culinary Occupations class, which prepared a variety of hors d’oeuvres, including pumpkin hummus with homemade pita chips, caramelized onion cranberry crostinis, caprese skewers, and teriyaki meatballs.

USDA awards $100,000 to Pretzel City Kitchens project

Here’s the press release!

PCK Press Release on USDA Grant

PCK Press Release on USDA Grant


Media Contact:

Nick Jupin

Grants Coordinator

City of Freeport




October 2, 2015

For Immediate Release


USDA awards $100,000 to Pretzel City Kitchens project

Funds key to starting up shared-use commercial kitchen incubator for Stephenson County region


FREEPORT, IL – On October 2nd, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the City of Freeport was awarded a $100,000 Local Foods Promotion Program (LFPP) grant.  The city’s application, written in conjunction with Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, CareerTEC, and the University of Illinois Extension, with assistance from Vandewalle and Associates, was submitted in support of the Pretzel City Kitchens (PCK) project.


The City of Freeport and Blackhawk Hills Regional Council agreed to provide match, with in-kind support coming from CareerTEC, University of Illinois Extension, and independent consultant Colleen Johnson.


Mayor Jim Gitz believes that the Local Foods Promotion Program grant will be a boon for Pretzel City Kitchens and potential entrepreneurs. The mayor noted Galena’s culinary reputation for restaurants and stated, “This is a chance to build on this region’s longstanding agricultural tradition; we are just adding more pieces to it.  Freeport can and should renew its history of innovation and growth. This city grew of age through manufacturing, insurance, banking and agriculture. Pretzel City Kitchens offers a pathway to combine career training, food products, and entrepreneurship in new ways that can make Freeport the business and entertainment center of the region. This is not just a grant but potentially a new beginning. The seeds of tomorrow are being laid today.”


In addition, Theresa Wittenauer, Executive Director of Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, commented that “as a regional planning commission, it’s always been a part of our mission to assist the region in developing and implementing projects that will enhance opportunities for economic growth and workforce development.  We’re excited to be part of a project that will provide an environment where food entrepreneurs will have the resources, workspace, and support to prepare and launch their own products.”


The USDA LFPP grant will be used to pay for rent, staff, equipment, and other start-up costs related to Pretzel City Kitchens.  The facility will function as a shared-use kitchen space and incorporate commercial grade equipment, allowing users to bake and cook on a large scale and certify products for sale to consumers.


The idea for PCK began with a collaborative research effort between University of Illinois Extension and the City of Freeport.  It later expanded to include CareerTEC and Blackhawk Hills Regional Council as planning team members.  Further, the Freeport Community Foundation has supported the project financially, and a number of community members throughout the region participate on PCK’s advisory team.


Margaret Larson, Director of the University of Illinois Extension Jo Daviess-Stephenson-Winnebago Unit, indicated that Extension “has been working with local farmers’ market vendors and produce growers intensively for the past ten years.  Our involvement with the project grew out of this and continues to provide us with great opportunities to share our expertise and resources with the community.  Producer support, food safety education, and recruitment of users are just a few of the areas of involvement for Extension staff.”  Furthermore, she noted that “the receipt of this grant opens the doors to the actual bricks and mortar of the project.”


CareerTEC Director Jen Newendyke expressed confidence that the grant will provide “opportunities for PCK users and CareerTEC students to utilize commercial grade equipment to explore and develop recipes to contribute to the local, regional, and possibly national food economy.”


PCK hopes to raise $400,000 in total and is currently accepting donations and investor support.  Any questions about investing in PCK may be directed to Daniel Payette (815-625-3854, daniel.payette@blackhawkhills.com).



Webinar on the Food Safety Modernization Act held December 2014

A Webinar was held in December 2014 to review the re-proposed Food Safety Modernization Act Produce and Preventative Controls Rules and the potential impacts on local food systems. The Webinar was organized by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, U of I Extension and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.  Check out this video documentation of the Webinar.
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