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Local Food Infrastructure program proves enormously popular at Jan. 31 grant application deadline

The new Illinois Local Food Infrastructure grant program application process recently ended, but not before many Illinoisans put in their bids for a taste.

From Dec. 1 through Jan. 31, Illinois Stewardship Alliance asked for proposals from across Illinois for nearly $2 million in state funds to be distributed in March under the Local Food Infrastructure Grant program.

It’s a new program administered by the Stewardship Alliance this year, as part of its ongoing efforts to advocate for addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the state’s food system: getting food from local farms to markets and consumers near and far.

Overall, 247 applications were submitted, worth more than $23.5 million in funding requests – more than 10 times the amount of money available to distribute this year.

Project proposals were submitted from more than 60 Illinois counties, representing farmers, food businesses, nonprofit organizations, local governments, and educational institutions with a variety of exciting concepts to strengthen the local food system. The ideas reach across the agricultural sectors: meat and poultry, dairy, produce, and much more.

A committee of local agricultural and food specialists has the tough task of selecting projects that will have the most impact, among the highly competitive and innovative proposals. The review committee 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.

Grants will be awarded of up to $150,000 per project, and a minimum of 12 projects are expected to be funded in this round with decisions being made and recipients expected to be announced in March.

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

“We are excited to collaborate 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 look forward to reviewing and supporting a great first slate of infrastructure ideas. And we can’t wait to see improvements in local food infrastructure take shape across Illinois in 2024.”

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About Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Illinois Stewardship Alliance brings together farmers and eaters to reshape and regenerate a stronger, more diverse local food and farm system.  They form a powerful voice at every table where policy decisions are made to advocate for an Illinois where farmers earn a living as responsible stewards of the land who feed the communities, and where people can easily and affordably find and buy local food that aligns with their values for more vibrant and healthier communities. Learn more:

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