2018: Our Year in Review & Looking Ahead
Read about our year of growth and gratitude from CFPAC Executive Director, Rodger Cooley.
What a year! As Executive Director of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council, I am humbled to say that 2018 was truly remarkable for all of us involved in working to improve the food system in Chicago. The Council continues to grow and spread its mission of developing policies with Chicago residents to improve their ability to produce and access sustainable, fair, nutritious, affordable, and culturally significant food. Here are some of our highlights from the past 12 months.
In May, the Cook County Board of Commissioners adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program. Championed by its Commission on Social Innovation, the policy placed racial equity at the center of the County’s groundbreaking program. By adopting this resolution, Cook County became the largest municipality in the nation to take a forward-thinking approach to the systems delivering healthy, local, fair, humane, and sustainable foods. The Cook County Board of Commissioners was also awarded the 2018 Good Food Policy Hero by the Center for Good Food Purchasing. The City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and now Cook County, have all adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program thanks to the work of the Council and a coalition of over 40 organizations. The program unlocks $325 million to support the five values of local food economies, environmental sustainability, fair treatment of food system workers, animal welfare, and nutrition.
Incubating at CFPAC! Urban Stewards Action Network (USAN), a project of Chicago Food Policy Council, held the first two Food Fun(d)ing Fridays, a micro-grant contest and community fundraising event. On October 26, USAN’s second event at B’Gabs Vegan Scratch Kitchen in Hyde Park welcomed over 60 participants and awarded $3,000 in grants to Catatumbo Cooperative Farm, Getting Grown Collective, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, and Your Bountiful Harvest Family Farm. USAN brings Black and Brown leaders of Chicago’s food system together to cultivate connections, provide mutual support, and transform the food system across communities of color. USAN’s membership is currently comprised of food justice organizations, local farmers, and community members primarily based in Chicago’s South and Southwest sides. Food Fun(d)ing Fridays will be held quarterly beginning in January 2019.
On February 28, food justice advocates, urban farmers, and small food businesses across Chicago and the Midwest gathered for the 13th Annual Chicago Food Policy Summit at the South Shore Cultural Center to reflect on and strategize around Chicago’s food policy issues. Over 300 attendees and 25 speakers discussed topics such as how to support new farmers and the best means for organizing worker cooperatives. To improve accessibility, CFPAC provided simultaneous translation for Spanish speakers, rented a bus for transportation, charged sliding fees, and provided scholarships. The open session format spurred relationship building and provided valuable information and access to influencers. CFPAC also presented several sessions focused on the recent passage of the Good Food Purchasing Program, and emphasized connecting small-scale growers and producers to various community resources and services.
On December 4, CFPAC staff joined food vendors, advocates, and city agencies at the IIT Institute of Design’s Communication Design class' final presentation mapping out the current food business licensing processes in Chicago. The Asociación de Vendedores Ambulantes (AVA), the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Institute for Justice provided input to help identify opportunities for working together to support emerging food businesses. We look forward to partnering to continually improve the city's license and permit process.
We have also been working diligently to develop the Midwest Consortium for Equity, Research and Food Policy (MCERF). MCERF is a consortium of Chicago-area based university and community researchers that collaborate with communities to answer questions related to food equity and support transitions to more equitable food systems. Our partners currently include Chicago State University, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Roosevelt University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as the City of Chicago Department of Public Health. MCERF is developing an evaluation framework for the impact of the Good Food Purchasing Policy as it begins to be implemented.
Fundraising at CFPAC! We will receive $30,000 per year for the next five years to assist with the implementation of the Illinois State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program (ISPAN). CFPAC will be working for equitable and just opportunities for Illinoisans to practice healthy eating habits through the expansion and implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program at institutional facilities. Additionally, thanks to a grant of $70,000 from the Searle Funds and the Chicago Community Trust and their support of the Food:Land:Opportunity - Localizing the Chicago Foodshed initiative, CFPAC will partner with Chicago's non-profit land trust for community managed open spaces NeighborSpace to expand secure access to urban and peri-urban farmland.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of the success CFPAC enjoyed in 2018 is the increase in staff. In May, the Council beefed up its infrastructure by hiring Brenda Rodriguez as Community Partnerships Manager. Brenda was previously the Associate Director of the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos: Immigrant Workers' Project, and is currently completing her Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Additionally, Administrative Coordinator Kara Rodriguez transitioned from a part-time role to a full-time employee.
CFPAC IN THE NEWS
Good Food Local Hero 2018: Cook County Board of Commissioners: Good Food Purchasing Program - Center for Good Food Purchasing
Chicago is Leading the Way Toward a Good Food Future - Civil Eats
Food Policy Summit Offers Alternative Histories and Solutions - South Side Weekly
What if School Lunch Programs Promoted Public Health, Good Jobs, and the Environment? - The Nation
Thank you for allowing us to share some of our victories, events, meetings, and memories from 2018. We cannot wait for 2019 and are eager to continue to grow and enhance our impact across the region. Please consider assisting us financially as we raise funds to sustain our work to ensure the fair implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Policy and to direct resources improving the health and well-being of communities in Chicago and Cook County.
Rodger Cooley, Executive Director
We’re excited for 2019 and we hope you’ll join us. We are raising funds to sustain our work to ensure the fair implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Policy and to direct resources improving the health and well-being of communities in Chicago and Cook County.