By Christina Spach, National Good Food Purchasing Campaign Coordinator, Food Chain Workers Alliance
On May 16th, Commissioners in Cook County, Illinois — the nation’s second largest county –adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP). This win in Cook County comes on the heels of last year’s adoption of the program by the Chicago Public Schools (June), Chicago Parks Department (September), and the City of Chicago (October). Together, these institutions are directing nearly $325 million annually toward purchasing food that supports GFPP’s core values.
- Local Economies
- Valued Workforce
- Animal Welfare
- Environmental Sustainability.
A grassroots coalition led by the Chicago Food Policy Action Council, Urban Growers Collective, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Grow Greater Englewood, Food Chain Workers Alliance, and others made this string of successes possible and ensured that GFPP was adapted to the needs and priorities of the local community.
Thanks to their leadership and that of county champions like Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and the Social Innovation Commission, the Cook County resolution also prioritizes in its food procurement contracts incentives that benefit residents, communities, and enterprises who can gain the most and who have not had access to such resources in the past. The resolution incentivizes
- Businesses located in and hiring from low-to-moderate income communities and persons with prior arrests and/or prison records;
- Access to under utilized and surplus County-owned land and buildings for minority-owned/controlled social enterprises and land trusts for farming and food processing; and,
- Farms growing organically and using bio-intensive methods.
The Good Food Purchasing Program has already delivered a series of positive impacts—chief among them are job improvements for local food workers. Passage has been critical to ensuring fair wages and working conditions as well as protecting workers’ rights in participating supply chains, while also increasing nutritious food to students, strengthening the local economy, reducing environmental impacts of food production, and supporting the humane treatment of animals.
With more grassroots coalitions working to expand GFPP in Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, New York City, Northwest Arkansas, Washington, DC, and the Twin Cities, we anticipate more wins to come!
Christina Spach is the National Good Food Purchasing Campaign Coordinator at HEAL member organization the Food Chain Workers Alliance. Her work is based on a continued commitment to support social and worker justice efforts grounded in grassroots solutions.