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Chicago Prize Finalists Envision a Closed Loop Food Economy in Little Village That Provides Economic Development for Thousands of Families

Partnership between Delta Institute and LVEJO awarded $100,000 from the Chicago Prize to plan for development of a community hub and food-cart worker cooperative

CHICAGO, Dec. 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A partnership between Delta Institute and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) to create food access and economic equity through a closed loop food economy in Little Village was awarded $100,000 through the Chicago Prize, an initiative of the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. The Chicago Prize is a $10M grant award that will be given to one of six finalists—which includes Delta Institute and LVEJO's partnership—in Spring 2020 after the end of a robust planning period.

The nonprofit partners are planning for the redevelopment of a vacant Chicago Fire Station at 2358 S. Whipple to eventually house a community hub, including a commercial kitchen available for a to-be-created food-cart cooperative led by the workers themselves.

"We want a fighting chance to show what a local economy looks like—a community hub and food-cart cooperative that supports economic empowerment and food access in Little Village," said Kim Wasserman, Executive Director of LVEJO. "We do not want an extractive economy that fuels gentrification and displacement."

"As a nonprofit focused on creating thriving communities through innovative partnerships, I am excited that our team was chosen as a finalist," said Bill Schleizer, CEO of Delta Institute. "The proposed project stems from years of community investment work that we've done in Little Village in close collaboration with LVEJO."

Key outcomes from the creation of the community hub include:

  • Offering 150 food-cart entrepreneurs with professional-grade equipment to prepare food for sale--keeping dollars local and increasing household incomes and economic self-sufficiency by 2023;

  • Establishing a worker-led cooperative to manage the kitchen and a cooperative retail storefront;

  • Serving as the heart of a sustainable food network by 2023, with entrepreneurs purchasing organic produce from LVEJO's Urban Farm and sending produce waste to the planned LVEJO commercial composting site;

  • Establishing an open-access venue for consistent programming; and,

  • Creating a ripple effect from an estimated $8M in food cart revenues to increase economic sustainability and uplift community members by 2030.

Little Village has been the Midwest's main entry for Latino immigrants for decades, and has more than 100,000 residents who are predominantly Mexican-American.

"From community engagement to economic justice, we have continued to fight for the self determination of Little Village, and this project will show how that can happen by inclusively centering those most impacted while lifting up low-income communities of color," said Wasserman.

"Our project is a real opportunity to create a new model for how social entrepreneurship can engage communities and create economic opportunities that improve the local environment," said Schleizer. "The potential $10 million investment through the Chicago Prize can seed a vibrant neighborhood for decades to come—impacting generations of families and residents."

Delta Institute and LVEJO together have 40 years of shared experience creating positive environmental and economic outcomes in Chicago. With the goal of promoting economic development, revitalization and environmental justice in the community, Delta Institute and LVEJO initiated a two-year partnership in 2013 to create the LV Vacant Property and Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy for redevelopment of brownfields--which directly leads and informs our partnership to revitalize 2358 S. Whipple.

Delta Institute is a Chicago-based nonprofit that works with communities throughout the Midwest to solve environmental challenges. We envision a region in which all communities and landscapes thrive through an integrated approach to environmental, economic, and social challenges. Delta has leveraged its technical, planning, and engagement expertise to assist communities across the Midwest in tackling challenges like brownfield redevelopment, coal-based economy transition, community investment, and poor air quality. www.delta-institute.org.

Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) works to accomplish environmental justice in Little Village and achieve the self-determination of immigrant, low-income, and working-class families. Our vision is to build a sustainable community that promotes the healthy development of youth and families, provides economic justice, and practices participatory democracy and self-determination. In 2015 LVEJO successfully transformed a 22-acre Superfund site into a public park, La Villita Park, and set aside 8 acres of the park for an urban farm. http://www.lvejo.org/

Media Contact:
Sidney Freitag-Fey


View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chicago-prize-finalists-envision-a-closed-loop-food-economy-in-little-village-that-provides-economic-development-for-thousands-of-families-300974444.html

SOURCE Delta Institute