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Chicago Region Food Fund Grants

Chicago Region Food Systems Fund

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Deadline: The deadline for this grant has passed

Grant amount: Up to US $200,000

Fields of work: Farms & Farming Horticulture & Gardening Food Access & Hunger

Applicant type: Nonprofit, Indigenous Group

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Counties in Illinois: Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County, Lake County Show all

Location of residency: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin


Strengthening the food system and building a just future

The Chicago Region Food System Fund addresses 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 $4.2M, the Fund has grown to more than $7.3M. As of October 2020, the Fund has awarded 85 grants totaling $3.97M focused on pandemic response projects. In November 2020, a new round of funding will extend beyond immediate emergency response.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still with us—and the needs of the community and the food system are evolving. This round of funding centers on long-term food system resilience—without losing sight of the pandemic—and is rooted in racial and economic justice. Any definition of resilience requires diversity. The CRFSF team takes a broad view and encourages participation from diverse communities: urban neighborhoods and rural communities; tribal nations; LGBTQIA+ organizations; veterans; food chain workers; food system businesses; investors; and more. The Fund will prioritize BIPOC-led organizations promoting food system resilience in BIPOC communities.

Examples of the kinds of organizations the Fund could support include nonprofits:

  • Able to support community associations providing local food and food system support to neighbors, such as 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.
  • Focusing on innovation, investment, policy, or media narratives to reduce barriers and take advantage of market shifts.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Only 501(c)(3) organizations or fiscal sponsors are eligible to apply, and there are loose geographic restrictions.
    • The Chicago Region Food Fund focuses on an area roughly 200 miles from Chicago.
    • Tribal nations located more than 200 miles from Chicago are eligible to apply if the Chicago region is part of their market.
    • Previous CRFSF grantees are eligible to reapply.
  • In Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties, funding consideration includes nonprofits working with: urban and peri-urban farmers; food hubs/cooperatives; farmers markets; community organizations with close ties to informal community associations; food businesses (processors, distributors, slaughterhouses, retail, restaurants, institutional providers); food chain workers impacted by COVID or at a high-risk of contracting the virus; emergency food system organizations integrating local food; and wasted food projects.
  • Funding consideration in other regions of Illinois, southeast Wisconsin, northwest Indiana, and southwest Michigan is for nonprofits working with rural farmers, food aggregation hubs, and food processors that include the Chicago metropolitan area as part of their market.
    • This includes nonprofits supporting food chain workers impacted by COVID-19 or at high risk of contracting the virus. Tribal nations and indigenous peoples’ organizations that prioritize the Chicago region as part of a food sovereignty strategy will also be considered.

This page was last reviewed January 15, 2021 and last updated January 12, 2021