Grounded in racial and economic equity
While COVID-19 is a serious disease that is a danger to all communities, it strikes people of color in the Chicago region at much higher rates than it does white residents. The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent groundswell of protests emerged from the same context of structural racism from which the disproportionate rates of COVID-19 illness and death in communities of color result.
New models and structures are necessary for a truly resilient food system grounded in racial and economic equity. This requires a commitment to confront the systemic racism and wealth disparity in the current food system and to develop new approaches to food systems that prioritize them. It also requires a strong commitment to struggling rural communities and the farmers and food businesses that support them. This Fund aims to address present needs and build a bridge to a resilient, racially and economically just future.
Hope in newly emerging collaborations
COVID-19 has also revealed underlying strengths in Chicago’s regional food system. Chicago is part of a vibrant web of rural, urban, and peri-urban food value chains whose vitality makes the Chicago region stronger. This food system relies on diverse communities that draw on deep connections to strengthen mutual aid networks, generating life-saving responses emerging from their cultures and community assets.
Hope for the future has already emerged. Nonprofits and food businesses within and across communities collaborate to improve food distribution, consumer connection, and infrastructure. They create new business models in the process. Farmers and farmers markets are working hard to find new and creative ways to bring healthy, culturally relevant food to the region’s tables as demand for local food soars and farmers struggle to meet it.