The Kinship Foundation and the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust have announced the launch of Food:Land:Opportunity — Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a multiyear initiative aimed at increasing the supply of local and sustainably grown food in the region.
Designed to leverage the food system in order to strengthen the long-term resiliency of land and communities in the region, the initiative will provide nearly $4 million over two years to local food projects, with a focus on catalyzing innovation at multiple points in the food-system supply chain.
Driven by the increasing popularity of farmers' markets and direct wholesaling, the demand for local and sustainably grown food currently outpaces supply. By increasing access to land for sustainable production, strengthening the business skills of food practitioners, and attracting capital to the system, the initiative will work to advance the region’s ability to meet that demand. The Good Food Accelerator, which helps local food entrepreneurs connect with potential investors, is the first project to receive support.
Local food systems offer an opportunity to improve environmental stewardship of the land and local livelihoods simultaneously, said Karie Thomson, a consultant to the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust and board chair at Kinship. "We know that it's possible to grow food and support food entrepreneurs while cultivating land sustainably," Thomson said. "Food:Land:Opportunity makes use of this synergy on a systemic scale with an approach that represents a first for the Chicago region."