New state funding is now available to help build out Illinois’ food infrastructure, with the hope of getting more local food out in more markets.



New state funding is now available to help build out Illinois’ food infrastructure, with the hope of getting more local food out in more markets.

Nearly $2 million in state funds will be handed out next spring under the Illinois Local Food Infrastructure Grant program, under a new program being administered this year by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. The group brought together farmers and food consumers to advocate for legislation last spring aimed at addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the state’s food system.

Farmers have exciting products ready to reach more eaters. But there needs to be a stronger infrastructure system – from transportation to processing to community kitchens – built out to ensure the food can reach the consumers.


The advocacy campaign behind that legislation resulted in this initial round of funding for this year.


Grants will be awarded of up to $150,000 per project, and at least 12 projects are expected to be funded in this round with recipients announced in March. The deadline for grant applicants is Jan. 31.


A committee of local agriculture and food specialists will review grant applications, and they will be looking for specific pieces on each project.


Smaller farms, processing facilities, food businesses, local governments and even correctional facilities are encouraged to apply, as are underserved farmers and products to be marketed to underserved communities. They will be looking for projects that have established community support, a positive economic impact on the local food sector, and those that support long-term economic development in local foods.


Program administrators hope this is just the beginning of a long-term state commitment to building out local food infrastructure.


“We are excited to partner with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to open new doors of opportunity for dedicated people who share our commitment to a stronger local food network in every part of the state,” said Josh Snedden, grant program coordinator for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. “We encourage anyone with a good idea to submit their proposals by Jan. 31 and look forward to reviewing and supporting a great first slate of infrastructure ideas next spring.”


For more information and to apply, visit: https://www.illinoislfig.org.
 

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