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Photo series: From 'Dreaming Big' to Equity: Passing the Good Food Policy Program in Cook County (2018)

By Carolina Sanchez and Kara Rodriguez

Earlier this year, we had our 13th Annual Food Policy Summit at the South Shore Cultural Center where we brainstormed and discussed strategies for passing the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) in Cook County. We had already helped passed it in the city and at Chicago Public School system, but we wanted to take a moment to reflect and analyze how GFPP could be more equitable with our coalition partners and community members during the summit. We dreamed big of passing not only passing GFPP in the county but also across the state and the nation. Inspired by the summit and committed to building racial equity in our communities, we mobilized food justice advocates to make calls and sign petitions. The second picture is reflective of how advocacy efforts takes a lot of time inside meeting chambers, but our hopes are still holding on strong. Our mobilization and patience paid off! We we’re the first county to pass the Good Food Purchasing Program in the nation. The Cook County resolution is the most explicit Good Food Purchasing Program policy to date that accounts for and corrects power imbalances in access to resources, land, and investment for businesses, workers, and farmers that have long been marginalized in the food system, particularly low-income and communities of color. Under the Program, the County will incentivize contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses in order to preserve and secure urban farmland with equitable community ownership and to transition publicly owned vacant lots to minority-owned social enterprises and land trusts. By adopting this policy, it will impact over $20 million in annual purchasing for the county’s hospitals and prisons. We believe the Good Food Purchasing Program has the power to transform the food system in every region where it is implemented. We are excited to implement this model for food procurement that supports the most impacted frontline communities.