Chicago Region Food System Fund

September 2, 2020

Food:Land:Opportunity is a founder of the Chicacgo Region Food System Fund.

Major funders of the Chicago Region Local Food System Fund are The Builders Initiative, Food:Land:Opportunity, Fresh Taste, James F. Beré Family Fund, Little Owl Foundation, The Lumpkin Family Foundation, Margot L. Pritzker Fund, Walder Foundation, and Walter Mander Foundation.

The Chicago Region Food System Fund responds to hunger and business disruption by bolstering the local food system to withstand COVID-19. It launched in June 2020 with an initial investment of $4.2 million. Additional support has increased the Fund to more than $6.7 million. The Fund awarded 81 grants totaling $3.4M in the initial round of funding, Response.

The first round of grants represents the diversity of communities and approaches the Fund is designed to support. Recipients are urban and rural, with strong representation from communities of color. They are at the cutting edge of response to the challenges—and opportunities for change—COVID-19 and the national movement for racial justice represents. We are confident that their efforts will make a tangible and important difference in the communities they serve, and to the food system, and to the broader community. In the autumn, the Fund will offer a second round of funding informed by learning from the Response round focused on Resilience to build a just future food system capable of handling shocks like COVID-19.

Learn more at

Round One: Response—Grantees and Project Descriptions
Advocates for Urban Agriculture, $80,250
All Family Active ALFA, $25,000
Already Always Amazing, $20,000
American Indian Center, $30,000
Annie’s Table NFP, $10,000
Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home), $50,000
Apostolic Faith Church, $10,000
Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute, $10,000
Artisan Grain Collaborative, $50,000
Big Green, $10,000
BIG, NFP, $25,000
Black Lives Matter Chicago, $10,000
Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Living, $120,000
Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Living, $40,000
Blue Island Citizens for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, $20,000
Brave Space Alliance, $100,000
Care for Real, $5,000
Carolyn and Karen Spiritual Healing House, $20,000
Chicago Bridge Project, $5,000
Chicago Dream Center, $20,000
Chicago Food Policy Action Council, $75,000
Chicago Food Policy Action Council (ChiFresh Kitchen), $165,000
Chicago Lawn United Methodist Church, $20,000
Chicago Workers Collaborative, $100,000
Chinese American Service League, $80,000
Claretian Associates, $50,000
Cooperation Operation, $40,000
Eden Restoration Project, $10,000
Edward G. Irvin Foundation, $10,000
Eighteenth Street Development Corp, $35,000
Elawa Farm Foundation, $100,000
Experimental Station, $100,000
Faith in Place, $100,000
Federación de Clubes de Michoacanos, $50,000
Food Not Bombs, $25,000
Fuller Park Community Development Corporation, $10,000
The GardenWorks Project, $5,000
Garfield Park Community Council, $25,000
Gary Comer Youth Center, $15,000
Grace Housing Complex, $10,000
Greater Chatham Initiative, $40,000
Green City Market, $125,000
Henry Williams Foundation of Love, $35,000
Hope Charities, Inc, $25,000
ICNA Relief USA, $35,000
Illinois Stewardship Alliance, $100,000
Inner City Muslim Action Network, $75,000
Inspiration Corporation, $20,000
InUrban Strategies, LLC, $10,000
Just Food Initiative of the Fox Valley, $10,000
A Just Harvest, $35,000
The Kindness Campaign, $10,000
Ladies of Virtue, NFP, $7,000
Little Village Community Foundation, $96,000
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, $16,000
Maple Morgan Park Community Food Pantry Incorporated, $20,000
Midwest Food Bank NFP, $20,000
Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc $20,000
NeighborSpace, $75,000
New Life Baptist Church of Bloom Township, $10,000
New Macedonia MB Church, $12,000
North Lawndale Greening Committee, $5,000
Un Nuevo Despertar/A New Awakening, $20,000
Opportunity Knocks, $8,500
Plant Chicago, $25,000
PS Its Social, $20,000
Puerto Rican Cultural Center, $25,000
Reach Ministries, $5,000
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, $30,000
The Roberti Community House, $25,000
Sisters Working It Out, $75,000
SkyART NFP, $5,000
St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, $10,000
Star Farm Chicago, $28,000
Street Vendors Association of Chicago, $120,000
Telpochcalli Community Education Project, $21,000
The Trotter Project, $150,000
Urban Growers Collective, $200,000
Victory House of Prayer, $10,000
Warehouse Workers Justice Center, Inc., $90,000
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, $20,000

Advocates for Urban Agriculture $80,250
Advocates for Urban Agriculture will provide 40 Chicago farms and community gardens with funds to access fire hydrants as a water supply to irrigate and wash crops. The farms and gardens will be able to purchase, install, and certify RPZ units and acquire other equipment required by the City of Chicago for hydrant access.

All Family Active ALFA $25,000
All Family Active ALFA is bringing food pantries to the most affected communities, such as the elderly, and coordinating Latin American consulates to provide rotating food pantries in Latinx communities.

Already Always Amazing $20,000
In response to COVID-19, Already Always Amazing is expanding its six-year-old Destination Safe Haven Summer Program, which provides well-prepared, nutritious meals to children, to include families and seniors in Chicago’s South Side communities.

American Indian Center $30,000
American Indian Center (AIC) offers emergency food distribution to the Native American community in Chicago through weekly food boxes, some sourced from neighboring tribes. AIC will also build a Native garden growing traditional food to feed community members.

Annie’s Table NFP $10,000
Annie’s Table feeds vulnerable populations hot meals two times each month and provides groceries and non-perishables to families in need.

Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home) $50,000
Apna Ghar serves immigrant, refugee, and marginalized survivors of gender violence. They are partnering with Global Garden Refugee Training Farm to provide access to fresh produce for survivors and communities across Chicago and its suburbs.

Apostolic Faith Church $10,000
Apostolic Faith Church distributes food boxes meant to feed a family of four with fresh produce and proteins and sometimes other stable items. They also provide lunches to essential workers (local hospitals, nursing homes, police departments) along with the homeless community at 51st Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute $10,000
The Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute (ALRI) works to support the health and well-being of residents in the Austin and West Garfield Park neighborhoods of Chicago, which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its economic repercussions. Since the start of the pandemic, ALRI has expanded its efforts to meet the spike in demand for its weekly pantry food.

Artisan Grain Collaborative $50,000
Artisan Grain Collaborative created the Neighbor Loaves program in late March, in which people purchase loaves of bread from local bakeries made with sustainable local grain which the bakery then donates to area food pantries. The program has already donated over 7,000 loaves of bread. AGC has recently expanded the program to include Tortillas Comunitarias.

Big Green $10,000
Big Green has pivoted in response to COVID-19 to support families by turning their Learning Gardens in Chicago into “Giving Gardens.” They are planting and harvesting 50 Giving Gardens to distribute fresh healthy produce to their hardest hit community members in Chicago in summer 2020 and an additional 100 Giving Gardens in fall 2020.

BIG, NFP $25,000
Through their Emergency Vegetable Program, BIG: Blacks in Green is delivering free, fresh produce to neighbors in West Woodlawn. The program focuses on individuals with histories of obesity and highblood pressure, conditions that are prevalent in the Black community and have been linked to COVID-19 death and disability.

Black Lives Matter Chicago $10,000
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, BLM Chicago leveraged a large group of volunteers and resources to support food pantry pop-ups in Black communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Supplies include non-perishable groceries and basic PPE.

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Living $120,000, $40,000
In response to COVID-19, Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Living in Pembroke, IL, will operate a mobile food market focused on the South Suburbs. In addition to its Rx Food Bags, BOC will deliver food boxes in collaboration with Gourmet Gorilla’s USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program on the South Side of Chicago and in the South Suburbs. A second grant was awarded for delivery of additional food boxes in partnership with Gourmet Gorilla.

Blue Island Citizens for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities $20,000
Blue Island Citizens for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities runs Blue Cap Food Pantry, which serves Blue Island, Robbins, and Calumet Park. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they expanded to support surrounding areas. Upgrading to a walk-in refrigerator at the pantry allows them to meet increased need and to serve food disinvested communities.

Brave Space Alliance $100,000
Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ center located on the South Side of Chicago. In response to the pandemic, Brave Space Alliance has formed a partnership with Center on Halsted and with Chi City Foods LLC to deliver groceries for emergency food aid to hard hit residents living on the South Side of Chicago.

Care for Real $5,000
During the next 6 months, Care for Real will provide hunger relief to all who need it through increased warehousing and distribution of donated food.

Carolyn and Karen Spiritual Healing House $20,000
Carolyn and Karen Spiritual Healing House (CKSHH) is collaborating with community stakeholders and veteran-serving organizations to provide direct assistance to elderly and homeless veterans across Chicago. CKSHH is providing food obtained from local urban farmers and farmers markets to serve 250 veterans.

Chicago Bridge Project $5,000
The Chicago Bridge Project is redistributing resources from office buildings and restaurants to food pantries, service organizations, tent encampments, and community members, thus reducing food waste, diverting waste from landfills, and providing nutritious food to people in need. They are also able to coordinate USDA Farm To Table shipments and deliveries.

Chicago Dream Center $20,000
Chicago Dream Center is providing groceries to over 6.400 individuals a month through their Manna for Life Food Pantry. Throughout the pandemic, they have continued to serve homeless populations and have continued to operate their women’s rehabilitation program.

Chicago Food Policy Action Council $75,000
Chicago Food Policy Action Council is convening and coordinating efforts to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on Chicago region food systems and communities, including developing a website and organizing weekly working groups focused on local producers, emergency food, small business disruption, and food chain workers.

Chicago Food Policy Action Council (ChiFresh Kitchen) $165,000
Structured as a worker cooperative, ChiFresh Kitchen is a Chicago-based food service contractor owned and determined by formerly incarcerated Chicagoans, primarily Black women. The Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC) is partnering with ChiFresh to address multiple effects of the pandemic on the Chicagoland food ecosystem. Building off the Feeding Chicagoland Now partnership already funded by the Chicago Region Food System Fund, CFPAC is expanding its emergency meal program to provide 20,000 nutrient-dense, freshly cooked meals to south and west sides residents facing food insecurity.

Chicago Lawn United Methodist Church $20,000
In response to COVID-19, Chicago Lawn United Methodist Church Jesus Christ Food Pantry is expanding its service area beyond Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, Englewood, West Lawn, Little Village, and Pilsen. It is an emergency food dispensary that now serves new food recipients from Des Plaines, Romeoville, Aurora, Plainfield, and elsewhere in the state.

Chicago Workers Collaborative $100,000
The Chicago Workers Collaborative (CWC) assists essential workers in meatpacking, industrial food production, and food distribution warehouses to mitigate the impacts/infection rates of COVID-19 in their workplaces. CWC is training and deploying low-income temporary staffing workers as COVID-19 Community Navigators on Illinois Department of Public Health guidance and how to report unhealthy working conditions to local departments of health which enforce the guidance.

Chinese American Service League $80,000
Based in Chicago’s Chinatown, the Chinese American Service League (CASL) has responded to COVID-19 by hiring their Culinary Training Program graduates to prepare culturally appropriate food for home delivery to seniors. CASL now prepares 4,500 meals/week to deliver to 300 seniors’ homes, sourcing food from local wholesalers that have been severely affected by restaurant closings.

Claretian Associates $50,000
Claretian Associates is the lead organization for the South Chicago Food Network, a collaborative of four food pantries and the Greater Chicago Food Depository to provide food access to residents experiencing food insecurity and hunger. Because of COVID-19 and the unrest that damaged small grocers in served communities, food access is at an all-time low. In response, Claretian Associates is offering vouchers to the hardest hit and most vulnerable.

Cooperation Operation $40,000
Cooperation Operation’s community garden program grows food for people in Chicago’s Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods, partnering with Brave Space Alliance’s Pop-Up Pantry project for distribution. They are increasing their cultivation and production capacity for crops through the fall.

Eden Restoration Project $10,000
Eden Restoration Project is expanding its ability to install community gardens and support farmers markets in order to serve their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edward G. Irvin Foundation $10,000
The Edward G. Irvin Foundation/Woodlawn Community Produce Pantry will provide free COVID-19 testing and face masks during their produce distribution events through 2021.

Eighteenth Street Development Corp $35,000
Eighteenth Street Development Corp is using their signature program, Food for Hope, as a critical building block for community resilience. They orchestrate and organize the packaging and distribution of hundreds of culturally appropriate food bags at on-site locations across the Chicagoland area.

Elawa Farm Foundation $100,000
Elawa Farm is partnering with Bella Ru Catering to distribute locally sourced grocery bags to predominantly Latinx communities across Lake County, including Waukegan, North Chicago, and Round Lake.

Experimental Station $100,000
Experimental Station provides farmers markets with funding for Link Match, a program which doubles purchases at farmers markets for Link Card users. They also will deliver boxes of nutritious food including fruits, vegetables, bread, and eggs to 400 South Side families.

Faith in Place $100,000
Faith in Place will offer micro-grants to help houses of worship cover emergency food relief costs, including providing food to distribute through food pantries, personal protection equipment (PPE) for volunteers, and resources for community outreach.

Federación de Clubes de Michoacanos $50,000
Federación de Clubes de Michoacanos will continue its COVID-19 food banks until the end of the year. Many of those who use the food banks are food chain workers.

Food Not Bombs $25,000
In response to COVID-19, Food Not Bombs is partnering with the Chicago Mutual Aid Network to organize emergency food grocery delivery and distribution to people in need throughout the city.

Fuller Park Community Development Corporation $10,000
Fuller Park Community Development Corporation is working in collaboration with farmers and chefs to provide free meals to 30 Fuller Park families every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The GardenWorks Project $5,000
The GardenWorks Project will provide families with food growing supplies to support gardens from August to November, viable months of growth for fall produce. It will also provide community growers with supplies and materials to continue gardening despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garfield Park Community Council $25,000
The Garfield Park Community Council has developed an online market and hosts four socially-distanced outdoor markets and additional pop-up food events at senior housing buildings. Seven local vendors offer food and healthy products, and the Garden Network sold 200 lbs. of produce at the July market.

Gary Comer Youth Center $15,000
Gary Comer Youth Center provides services and partners with other organizations in Chatham, Greater Grand Crossing, Avalon, and Auburn-Gresham. The Center is a self-sponsored Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Service Food Program site. It currently grows produce on its nearly 2-acre urban farm providing weekly donations of fresh, organic food to local food pantries and community partners. The Center collaborates with local restaurants and businesses of the 75th and 79th Street corridors to provide half-price produce and general support for business operations.

Grace Housing Complex $10,000
Grace Housing Complex works with those who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 in the South Deering, Roseland, and Englewood communities. Their “You Got The Juice” program initiative provides direct emergency food assistance to targeted residents.

Greater Chatham Initiative $40,000
COVID-19 restrictions reduced restaurants’ sales by 65% and had a big negative ripple effect on the South Side economy where 45% of businesses are food enterprises. To survive, restaurateurs moved to online ordering/delivery using cost-prohibitive apps. To make online ordering/delivery costs affordable, the Greater Chatham Initiative is implementing its new South Side Community Delivery Service.

Green City Market $125,000
Green City Market was the first farmers market in Chicago to work with its vendors to launch a virtual marketplace in response to COVID-19. They partnered with WhatsGood to launch an ecommerce app platform that provides a central ordering platform and streamlines the aggregation and delivery process and expenses.

Henry Williams Foundation of Love $35,000
The Growcery Bus Project is designed to increase exposure to and access the benefits of farm-to-table foods while providing education to communities that are typically excluded from consideration. This project is a partnership between the Henry Williams Love Foundation and Green Table Talks.

Hope Charities, Inc $25,000
Hope Charities, Inc, in addition to its own food pantry located in Olympia Fields, supplies emergency food to ten local food pantries in the Chicago metro area and has increased its services in response to COVID-19.

ICNA Relief USA $35,000
ICNA-Relief is currently providing hunger prevention services to the Muslim community at two locations in Illinois: Chicago (Rogers Park area) and Glendale Heights. They provide 225 boxes of food each week to families impacted by COVID-19.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance $100,000
The Illinois Stewardship Alliance Farmer Resiliency Initiative will help Illinois farms invest in collaborative relationships and critical infrastructure to scale up and adapt their business models to the rapidly increased demand for locally-produced food in response to the pandemic.

Inner City Muslim Action Network $75,000
Inner City Muslim Action Network provides 600 food and personal care packages to Southwest Side Chicago community members weekly through pick-up and delivery services.

Inspiration Corporation $20,000
Inspiration Cafe in Uptown has shifted from being a restaurant-style soup kitchen to providing to-go meals to any community member in need. The agency is expanding its connections with local farms and vendors to support the local food system and reduce food waste.

InUrban Strategies, LLC $10,000
InUrban Strategies, LLC is supporting business by providing access to capital, small business assistance, and resources to restaurants and food entrepreneurs. They are also coordinating a weekly food give away in Chicago’s West Haven Park and other locations in North Lawndale.

Just Food Initiative of the Fox Valley $10,000
The Just Food Initiative of the Fox Valley is currently working with senior homes to help provide healthy immune system-boosting food to the staff caregivers.

A Just Harvest $35,000
A Just Harvest is providing 200 hot meals each day, including delivering meals to those who are homebound or “sheltering in place,” repurposing their dining room as a local food / supply donation gathering and distribution hub, converting their food pantry into an emergency food pick-up and delivery program, collecting and distributing hygiene supplies, and increasing their urban agriculture programming’s focus on food production.

The Kindness Campaign $10,000
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of shelters, tent cities (homeless settlements), and food insecure families the Kindness Campaign serves with nutritious meals. They are expanding the Kindness Kupboard initiative to include hygiene items, cleaning supplies, clothes, and well-being calls.

Ladies of Virtue, NFP $7,000
Ladies of Virtue is partnering with organizations to provide food and food system support to families and to provide emergency groceries when needed. They are using a plot at the Park 540 Community Garden to teach youth and their parents how to grow their own food.

Little Village Community Foundation $96,000
Little Village Community Foundation (LVCF) launched Cocina Rx in May 2020 to provide lifestyle culinary medicine in response to COVID-19. LVCF will contract with Food LC3 to provide chef-prepared meals for black and brown communities; home delivery and distribution of “indoor farming” locally grown herbs, micro-greens, and vegetables via meal kits; and access to educational links to cooking and nutritional videos with each meal or meal kit.

Little Village Environmental Justice Organization $16,000
The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) is supporting the Farm Food.Familias project with Getting Grown Collective in providing emergency food supplies to 400 families every week in the Little Village, Back of the Yards, Bronzeville, Englewood, South Shore, and South Chicago neighborhoods.

Maple Morgan Park Community Food Pantry Incorporated $20,000
Because of COVID-19, the number of households Maple Morgan Park Community Food Pantry serves has tripled. They have transitioned to a new model of outside drive-ups and walk-ups for contactless curbside emergency food assistance outreach distribution.

Midwest Food Bank NFP $20,000
Midwest Food Bank gathers food and distributes to non-profit food pantries free of charge. In Illinois, they serve over 700 agencies from locations in Normal, Morton, and Peoria, of which 19 are in Will and Cook Counties. Because of COVID-19, they are serving 20-50% more food than before the pandemic.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc $20,000
Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago is providing a package of 10 freshly prepared meals to 24 senior households per week and a package of fresh produce to 63 general population households per week. These healthy and nutritious pre-made meals are sourced through Factor75. They are also managing the West Humboldt Park Farmers Market.

NeighborSpace $75,000
NeighborSpace is building on the current capacity of its community garden and neighborhood farm network to 1) grow and distribute food; 2) serve as safe, accessible space for outdoor activity; and 3) nurture community cohesion and resilience.

New Life Baptist Church of Bloom Township $10,000
New Life Baptist Church of Bloom Township is providing food and PPE to households and homeless members of their community.

New Macedonia MB Church $12,000
New Macedonia MB Church has a food pantry that includes essential supplies to help aid in prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and address the neighborhood’s recent food desert status resulting from damage to retailers during the uprising.

North Lawndale Greening Committee $5,000
The North Lawndale Greening Committee is moving from an all-volunteer organization to hiring staff to coordinate existing gardens, pandemic response, volunteers, and additional resources to address the pandemic.

Un Nuevo Despertar - A New Awakening $20,000
A New Awakening serves the largely Latinx community of Little Village in Chicago. In response to COVID-19, they are distributing meals and masks to the families of unemployed people, single mothers, the elderly and the sick. In coordination with other community organizations, they started a farmers market in Little Village and also offer free classes, workshops, and counseling to address mental health.

Opportunity Knocks $8,500
Opportunity Knocks will donate food grown and harvested at its 2,500 square foot urban farm operated by teens and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The donated food will support local food pantries and partner organizations in the Austin neighborhood, and will be used in meals donated to local organizations.

Plant Chicago $25,000
Plant Chicago will partner with local growers to get low cost produce to Link customers on the southwest side of Chicago, through a combination of weekly produce box pick up services and matching dollars for produce for Link customers.

PS Its Social $20,000
PS Its Social—an open cafe concept training program for highly at-risk young men and women—closed its cafes in March because of COVID-19 and shifted to teaching its students by providing individual meals for clients in shelters in Evanston and food boxes to support the closing of many pantries in Lake County, primarily Highwood.

Puerto Rican Cultural Center $25,000
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center is expanding its food program by purchasing a food van to bring fresh and culturally appropriate foods to families who cannot access other forms of food-related support, while conforming to social distancing requirements.

Reach Ministries $5,000
Reach Ministries is providing home deliveries of food, focusing on senior citizens.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United $30,000
Restaurant Opportunities Center of Chicago is the local chapter of the national ROC United network. In response to COVID-19, they are revising their workforce development program, which prepares low-wage restaurant workers, most of whom are people of color, for higher-paying positions. They are also advocating for the Essential Workers Bill of Rights, which demands that restaurants offer paid sick leave, hazard pay, personal protective equipment, and a living wage.

The Roberti Community House $25,000
Roberti Community House is procuring, preparing, and distributing emergency food to the food insecure in Lake County with an emphasis on the communities of Waukegan and North Chicago, which have the highest poverty and COVID-19 in the county.

Sisters Working It Out $75,000
Sisters Working It Out (SWIO) will distribute food and PPE to 500 homeless cancer survivors and other vulnerable individuals experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19 and/or recent grocery store closures on Chicago’s South Side. The food is from local grocers and farmers markets.

SkyART NFP $5,000
SkyART is shifting its Family Table program into delivering fresh food, produce, and recipes to their young studio programs participants and their families, while offering them local chef-led cooking tutorials to participate at home in the next three to six months.

St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church $10,000
In response to COVID-19, St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church is providing food and clothes to their community.

Star Farm Chicago $28,000
Star Farm Chicago will build three gardens for partner food pantries and conduct outreach for coalition building to organizations in Back of the Yards to strengthen collaboration. Star Farm launched a no-contact farmstand in early May, continuing through the end of October.

Street Vendors Association of Chicago $120,000
The Street Vendors Association of Chicago (SVAC) established a cooperative kitchen vendors could use to produce their food with higher food safety standards than they could meet at home. Vendors have been producing food and giving it out freely in the community. SVAC has been paying the cost of ingredients.

Telpochcalli Community Education Project $21,000
Telpochcalli Community Education Project (TCEP) is delivering food boxes on a regular basis, especially to single parent households and elders, and accommodating families’ food restrictions when necessary due to medical issues. A group of community leaders are sewing face masks for families in the community and also distributed on a regular basis along with information on TCEP’s stay at home campaign, Cuidar Nuestro Tesoro.

The Trotter Project $150,000
The Trotter Project partners with restaurants, largely owned by people of color, to provide prepared meals to individuals and families on the South and West Sides. Food purchases support local farmers as well as food service businesses and workers experiencing disruption from COVID-19.

Urban Growers Collective $200,000
Urban Growers Collective (UGC) is launching a three-month pilot plan to improve community well-being and health through safely providing nutritionally dense and culturally relevant meals prepared by emerging food cooperatives. UGC will also deliver local and wholesale fresh produce in these communities and distribute food boxes in cooperation with Gourmet Gorilla’s USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program.

Victory House of Prayer $10,000
Victory House of Prayer is delivering much needed food, PPE, and access to life saving information and resources in underserved neighborhoods.

Warehouse Workers Justice Center, Inc. $90,000
Warehouse Workers Justice Center, Inc. is providing organizing, legal rights information, and PPE to essential warehouse workers in Will County, including vital food distribution warehouses in the area. They are pairing PPE and food distribution with ongoing online workers’ rights workshops.

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago $20,000
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is providing more than 2,000 meals per week out of YWCA locations in the south loop StreetWise office to a homeless population and in Woodlawn. They are also partnering with The University of Chicago, Blue Cross Blue Shield, World Central Kitchen, and local catering small businesses to distribute between 600-1,500 fresh meals per week.

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New Fall 2019 FLO Grants

November 1, 2019

New FLO projects address innovative food and farmer training and education and promote regenerative farming practices:

Farm to Hospital Supply Chain

Basil’s Harvest primarily works in supply chain development for regenerative foods and experiential education for health and culinary professionals and farmers.

Healthy Food Hub

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living is dedicated to enhancing the education, training and facilitation of the local food system value chain from Pembroke to Chicago.


We are pleased to announce renewal funding for the following projects in Fall 2019:

Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance

The Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance (FPFA) connects small, local farmers through a network of farm-based hubs to distribute and market their products.

Fresh Taste

Fresh Taste is a funder initiative focused on re-localizing the food system in the Chicago foodshed, and improving equity of access to good food (healthy, green, fair and affordable).

South Cook County Land Access

NeighborSpace will identify ways to transition underutilized land in south Cook County for sustainable urban agriculture.

Farm 2 Neighbor Program

Top Box Foods and This Old Farm partner on a food distribution corporate delivery model to bring locally-sourced protein into Chicago’s corporate and institutional workplaces.

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FLO Grants Funded in Spring 2019

October 15, 2019

FLO projects address innovative food and farmer training, land access and promote regenerative farming practices:

Transformative Farmer Training and Education

The McHenry County College is providing educational opportunities for farmer entrepreneurs through their Center for Agrarian Learning (CAL) and a new degree program in Entrepreneurial Agriculture.


We are pleased to announce that the following projects received renewal funding in Spring 2019:

Urban Growers Certification Program

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is a membership organization that joins individuals, organizations and businesses to support and expand urban growing in Chicago, including home and community-based gardens and small farms.

Angelic Organics Learning Center

Angelic Organics Learning Center provides educational programs for more than 5,000 people each year through programs at partner farms and urban growing sites.

Developing Capacity for Regenerative Farming

ReGenerate IL is a coordinating space and coalition bringing together a diverse group of people who believe in the power of regeneration to restore soil health, store carbon, protect water quality and enhance biodiversity in the state of Illinois.

Artisan Grain Collaborative

The Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) is developing a grain hub system to bring new, artisan, food-grade crop varieties into Chicago markets.

Good Food Accelerator

The Good Food Accelerator (GFA), developed by FamilyFarmed, supports food businesses in the Chicago foodshed through mentoring, business planning and access to capital.

Land Access Project
Liberty Prairie Foundation (LPF) and its partners works to identify strategies to connect landowners and local food farmers, test land tenure leasing agreements with public and private landholders, and further build a pipeline of beginning and second-career farmers.

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Innovative Financing for the Local Food Ecosystem

April 8, 2019


Submission deadline: April 26, 2019 at 5:00 pm CT

FLO announced today that it is launching an effort to seek out and support innovative financing in Chicago's local food system. FLO has long recognized the importance of deploying adequate capital in the local and sustainable food system. Recent research by FLO on the region's financing landscape uncovered select gaps in the availability of short-term financing for local, sustainable food enterprises. Early and growth stage producers, distributors, processors and retailers, for example, often struggle with meeting various short-term capital needs. FLO aims to fill a portion of this capital gap by working with partners to unlock the financing needed of established businesses within the local food ecosystem to allow their businesses, as well as the sector, to grow.

FLO is looking to engage with one or more financial intermediaries that are interested in extending the reach of their current products and services or designing a new financial instrument targeted to early and growth stage local food businesses in need of short-term capital. FLO will deploy up to $1.0 million to one or two partners in the form of a recoverable grant. Partners will be selected through a two-phase process. Details including eligibility requirements, submission requirements, key dates and frequently asked questions, can be found by downloading the Request for Letters of Interest.

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New FLO Grants Announced

February 12, 2019

New FLO projects will address land access and promote regenerative farming practices:

Accelerating Regenerative Livestock Production and Value Chains in Illinois

This project will examine the current state of the Illinois grass-fed beef and dairy sector with the end goal of creating scenarios to develop a stronger grass-based livestock economy.

Coalition Building to Remove Policy Barriers to Local Food Economy Growth

An overarching goal of FLO is to reduce fragmentation in the local food movement. This project looks to unite key stakeholders to increase the amount of land available for sustainable agriculture and local food.

Illinois Farmland Conservation Initiative

This project will bring new financial resources to increase land access in the peri-urban areas of the Chicago regional food system.

Reaching Climate Resilience

This initiative looks to accelerate climate resilience strategies by promoting regenerative practices for agriculture.


We are pleased to announce that the following projects received renewal funding in Winter 2019: 

Englewood Village Farms

Grow Greater Englewood is leading the development of Englewood Village, an urban farm initiative that includes the creation of a plaza that will host a demonstration farm and connect to the Englewood trail.

Farm On Ogden Development (F.O.O.D)

F.O.O.D, one of the finalists in the 2016 Food to Market Challenge, continues its efforts to connect sustainably produced food in Chicago through its food hub on Ogden.

Food Scrap Compost Market-building

Seven Generations Ahead is demonstrating how the food scrap composting industry can drive economic development and protect natural resources.

Routes 2 Farm

The consortium of farmer alliances plans to launch a marketing campaign to raise consumer awareness about the benefits of buying local, sustainable foods.


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Chicago Local Food System Study Released

November 15, 2018

Food:Land:Opportunity is pleased to announce the release of the Chicago Local Food System Study: An Analysis of Opportunity for Local Foods, which sets a baseline of the capacity of the Chicago region to satisfy the demand for local food. The study is presented in the form of a website, organized in five parts: an economic analysis of various growth scenarios and benefits of sustainably produced local produce and grains; a policy and program scan to understand how regulations and programs currently drive and deter the local food movement; a strategy to measure the ecosystem services provided by on-farm practices in the local food system; a review of the various studies, articles and resources on food system planning and policy; and a set of conclusions and recommendations. View the study online.

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New FLO Projects Focus on Land Access and Food Distribution

October 10, 2018

Land Trusts, Land Access and Local Food
The Land Conservancy of McHenry County will lead a project to explore agricultural easements as a means for securing land for farming.

South Cook County Land Access
NeighborSpace will partner with the Chicago Food Policy Action Council to transition land in south Cook County for sustainable agriculture. Funding will also allow NeighborSpace to continue their land access work in the Englewood neighborhood.

Farm to Neighbor Program
Top Box Foods and This Old Farm developed a food distribution program tapping an existing supply chain serving Chicago schools. Now they are partnering again to bring local and sustainable protein to employees of large corporate and institutional workplaces.
We are also pleased to announce renewal funding for one of the finalist projects of the 2016 Food to Market Challenge: Dream Distributors, the local food aggregation and processing hub continues its efforts to connect local farmers with institutions in Kane County. Renewal funding will allow them to develop necessary readiness programs targeting farmers, institutional buyers and food hub operators.
Update on Catalyzing Conservation Grazing in the Chicago Foodshed
Earlier this year, Food:Land:Opportunity provided funding to Openlands to explore the possible conversion of an approximately 265-acre former golf course in McHenry County, Illinois into a large-scale, sustainable grazing operation. Results from a soil sampling, performed as part of the due diligence, led Openlands to determine that the property was unsuitable for a sustainable grazing operation. Read about the process, actions and lessons learned in their report.

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Liberty Prairie Foundation Launches Website for Local Food

July 13, 2018

Liberty Prairie Foundation has launched a new website to help people in Lake County find locally grown food. Grow Lake County is designed to make it easier for people to find and purchase local food, find tips and local resources to help them grow their own food, learn about the local food movement in Lake County and about what is happening in their community, and find ways to get involved.


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Two New Projects Funded through Food:Land:Opportunity

July 2, 2018

New projects funded through FLO will support urban growers and promote regenerative farming practices in Illinois:

Urban Growers Certification Program
Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) will develop a certification program for urban growers to elevate and scale the success of urban agriculture. AUA will focus on providing necessary technical assistance to growers on city land.

Developing Capacity for Regenerative Farming
ReGenerate IL and the IDEA Farm Network will bring about systems to regenerate soil, water and biodiversity in Illinois, while creating local food options and economic opportunities for farmers. 

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FLO Grantees in the News!

June 28, 2018

Food to Market Challenge finalist and recent grantee, Farm on Ogden (F.O.O.D) officially opened its doors this past weekend. The project brings local food, health and wellness programs, and job training together in one location. Their story was featured in the Chicago Tribune, on WTTW's Chicago Tonight and WGN News.

Shelly Herman, representing the Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance, was recently featured on local news giving tips on how to keep fruits and veggies fresh during the summer. Another one of our Challenge finalists, the Alliance is distributing and marketing products through a network of farm-based aggregation hubs near Chicago.

And Seven Generations Ahead recently consulted on the development of a compost pilot project at the Lake County jail, where approximately 80 percent of the total waste stream at the prison is food waste and six percent is recyclable materials. Currently, all waste goes to the building’s compactor, which results in higher costs for frequent pick-ups and more volume entering landfills.

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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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