An innovative Kane County food hub project has been selected as one of five finalists in the Food to Market Challenge, a competition that awards the winner a cool $500,000 to create a solution to boost the local, sustainable Chicago food system.
Kane County is joined in the nomination by New Venture Advisors LLC, Kane County’s consultant and partner in the food hub project. New Venture Advisors is a business consulting team that specializes in the development of sustainable food systems and food businesses. The Kane County food hub project is one of more than 50 food system projects the firm has led across the country.
Kane County and NVA submitted an ambitious feasibility study to bring a food hub to Kane County, as part of the Growing for Kane program.
If launched in Kane County, a food hub will encourage more locally grown fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat to be produced in Kane County, a goal of the Growing for Kane program approved by the Kane County Board in 2013.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said County Board members have shown strong support for the food-hub plan.
“The County Board is excited about a food hub in Kane County because a food hub gets fresh foods to residents faster, creates more jobs and produces more farm income in the process,” he said.
Mark VanKerkhoff, director of the Development and Community Services Departmen, said a local food hub will provide product to underserved markets and vulnerable populations in Kane County. Staff from the county’s Development Department and Health Department completed a Health Impact Assessment in 2013 demonstrating that residents will eat locally grown fruits and vegetables if available and that this will have a positive impact on their health outcomes.
“It gets fresh foods to residents faster, creates more jobs and farm income in the process and will provide product to underserved markets and vulnerable populations,” he said.
Kane County Farm Bureau Manager Steve Arnold expressed his support and enthusiasm for the food-hub concept.
“The Kane County Farm Bureau has worked side-by-side with Kane County in its Growing for Kane program and its landmark Farmland Protection program,” he said. “If a food hub is constructed it will encourage local farmers and serve our residents with farm fresh food, this is a win for our residents.”
The public-private partnership between Kane County and New Venture Advisors is in itself innovative in the food system planning arena. The team was selected to present their collaborative work at the American Planning Association National Conference in April 2016.
In October 2016, Kane County and New Venture Advisors will pitch their full proposal before a panel of judges in their attempt to win the $500,000 award. This team is pursuing groundbreaking and practical ideas for bringing healthy, local food to the consumer faster, and looks forward to pitching their concept in October along with an esteemed group of competitors.
The Food To Market Challenge is a project of Food:Land:Opportunity, a multi-year initiative to create a resilient local food economy that aims to protect and conserve land while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region.
Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.
“Bringing more local, sustainable food into the Chicago region means a more robust local food economy and a healthier environment,” said Renee Michaels, vice president at Kinship Foundation. The Food to Market Challenge is staged by Common Pool, LLC , a company that creates custom competitions to solve the world’s most challenging problems.
About the Food to Market Challenge
The Food to Market Challenge will award $500,000 to the multidisciplinary team that designs the most innovative solution to re-conceive supply chain practices that today limit the scale or efficiency of the Chicago region’s local and sustainable food market.
The solution will address the problem of size as a marketplace barrier for burgeoning local food enterprises. The solution will be feasible to implement; can be sustained or grow even after funding from the challenge ends; and advance the charitable purposes of Food:Land:Opportunity to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region’s communities.
The winning team will receive $500,000 to implement its proposed solution, but the intended outcome of the competition goes beyond naming a winner. The challenge seeks to create a common framework for assessing and investing in innovative ideas, attract new talent to the local and sustainable food sector, realize solutions that would not emerge through traditional grant making or without philanthropic capital, and convene an influential community committed to improving the Chicago region’s local and sustainable food economy.
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