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Publication Date




Publisher Name

School of Environmental Sustainability, Loyola University Chicago

Publisher Location

Chicago, IL, USA


The dominant food system is racially and economically unjust, environmentally unsustainable, and vulnerable to shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This research explored how non-profit organizations in the Chicago region who responded to increased food insecurity and other pandemic impacts are opening pathways to re-organize the food system towards racial equity and resilience to future shocks. Workshops held in 2022 brought together 26 individuals from 20 non-profit organizations in the Chicago region with majority people of color across their leadership, staff, and board. This report summarizes participants’ descriptions of how their organizations pivoted in response to the pandemic’s impacts and their visions for the future of the food system. Evident across the workshop discussions was the importance of resource mobilization, partnerships, and community care to building equitable food systems. Responding to the pandemic’s impacts required mobilizing human, material, and financial resources. The latter comes, at least in part, through grants; however, philanthropy often reproduces systems of privilege and oppression. Participants offered recommendations for funders interested in shifting these unequal power dynamics. Partnerships helped participants address pandemic-related disturbances by leveraging resources to overcome challenges and carry out programs that met community members’ priorities. Yet, inequitable and disrespectful partnerships caused harm. Participants provided recommendations for developing effective partnerships. Care for and with community was central to participants’ work. Their experiences and perspectives can inform funders, non-profit organizations, community practitioners, and others interested in transforming the food system to become equitable and resilient.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.