The Chicago Region Food System Fund works to address hunger and business disruption by bolstering the region’s communities and local food system in response to COVID-19 and other systemic shocks. From an initial investment of $4.2 million, the fund has grown to more than $7.3 million and, as of October 2020, has awarded eighty-five grants in support of pandemic response projects.
To advance this mission, and without losing sight of the impacts of the pandemic, grants of up to $200,000 will be awarded for efforts centered on long-term food system resilience that are rooted in racial and economic justice. Examples of the kinds of organizations eligible for support include nonprofits that are able to support community associations providing local food and food system support to neighbors (e.g., block clubs, cultural associations, and community gardens); developing new business models — alone or in partnership with businesses — to rapidly improve food distribution, consumer connection, and infrastructure while reducing wasted food; collaborating with farmers, urban and rural, who prioritize sales into local and regional markets, especially in communities of color; working with food chain workers at high risk of contracting COVID-19; and focusing on innovation, investment, policy, or media narratives to reduce barriers and take advantage of market shifts.
CRFSF encourages participation from diverse communities, including urban neighborhoods and rural communities, tribal nations, LGBTQIA+ organizations, veterans groups, food chain workers food system businesses, investors and more. The fund will prioritize BIPOC-led organizations promoting food system resilience in BIPOC communities.
There are loose geographic restrictions focused on the greater Chicago region (roughly two hundred miles). Tribal nations located more than two hundred miles from Chicago are eligible to apply if the Chicago region is part of their market.
To be eligible, applicants must be tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or have a fiscal sponsor with such status.
See the Chicago Region Food System Fund website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.