Localizing the Chicago Foodshed

Located on rich soils near one of the world’s largest freshwater sources, the Chicago region has relied on farming to support its economy for centuries. The region’s market for fruits and vegetables is estimated at more than $14 billion; yet, less than five percent is produced locally. As consumers of all income groups demand transparency about food production and pay a premium for food produced using sustainable practices, building a local and sustainable food system represents a compelling economic opportunity with the potential for unprecedented positive conservation impact.

In 2012, staff at Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust began investigating the potential of local food systems to achieve wide-ranging multidisciplinary impact. Two years later, Food:Land:Opportunity launched in March 2014. Focused on the supply side of producing food using sustainable practices, defining characteristics of this initiative include:

  • Creating a more cohesive, systemic approach to influencing the Chicago foodshed

  • Flexibility to test new models and adapt to what works

  • A commitment to using data and research to inform activities

  • Engagement with many points of the supply chain, requiring navigation of several geographic and socioeconomic contexts

  • A focus on cultivating a dedicated learning community of grantees and other strategic influencers
Investments to date*: $14,250,500

Funding Eligibility

Using insights gained through research and evaluation activities and deploying multiple philanthropic funding vehicles, most of the Food:Land:Opportunity projects have been designed in partnership with grantees and stakeholders. Therefore, proposals for Food:Land:Opportunity funding are made by invitation only. However, the initiative has reserved funds to respond to new opportunities that align with or support its strategies. If you believe that your work aligns with the core strategies and outcomes of Food:Land:Opportunity, please contact program staff using the information below.

*Updated: June 2020


Contact program staff or sign up to receive email updates. Please note: staff is working remotely with access to email and phone services. For the quickest response, please e-mail us rather than calling or sending physical mail.

Kinship Foundation

Lenore Beyer
Director of Conservation Initiatives

The Chicago Community Trust

Michael Davidson
Senior Director - Community Impact

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