Chicago, US, organic farmer Clarence Smith is excited about his city’s push to support local farmers through its purchasing. His One Family Farms has thrived over the past two years by selling to health clinics and universities, allowing him to offer some produce at below-market prices in food deserts and serve about 200 families weekly through a federally-funded nutrition program that offers local fresh produce at low rates. It is part of what professor Weslynne Ashton is studying - how to bridge the gap between small producers and large institutional buyers like universities and hospitals. It builds on Mayor Lori Lightfoot's order to create a food equity council, and on the Good Food Purchasing Program that Chicago, Cook County and sister agencies adopted in 2017 and 2018. Ashton and community organizations, civic partners and academic researchers also are designing pilot local food procurement programs at the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and Chicago Public Schools - the county’s third-largest public school district, which serves more than 340,000 students.

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