This past December the bees working for the honey program at the Chicago High School of Agriculture Scientists (CHSAS) got much busier. Chicago-based Eli’s Cheesecake Company launched its new Wildflower Honey Cheesecake, and a more than 20-year partnership between the school and the bakery grew into a much sweeter deal.
The opportunity allowed CHSAS students to harvest, prepare and bottle their wildflower honey for Eli’s. The school went from about 10 hives to 40 hives, and now Eli’s gets about 2,000 pounds of honey a year from CHSAS. All proceeds from purchasing the honey and a portion of the proceeds from the Wildflower Honey Cheesecakes sales go to the CHSAS’s college scholarship fund for seniors. Portions of sales from other holiday dessert menu items also were donated to CHSAS.
Eli’s Cheesecake Company has partnered with the Chicago School of Agriculture Sciences (CHSAS) since 1991, providing job shadowing, mentor programs and internships.
Back when the partnership began, Eli’s President Marc Shulman said. “When the school opened there was a lot of skepticism. People would say ‘Why do you want to train people to be farmers?’”
After working with the city, the partnership came to fruition and has lasted more than 20 years.
“This twist of agriculture in the city and high performance education is really a win-win in every way,” Shulman said. “Honey becomes for us a very hot, important and interesting topic. The more attention we can bring to this great ingredient and great partnership, the more opportunity. We make a lot of bars, brownies and productsan wanted to find opportunities for education in the food industry or food processing in Chicago. CHSAS was on ground that served as the last working farm in Chicago.“What we found was there were culinary programs that were not very good back then at the high school level, so we learned about the school,” Shulm other than cheesecake, and it’s an opportunity to be a leader with that.”