Illinois Farm Bureau, Feeding Illinois, and the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute have begun a Farm to Food Bank Feasibility Study. During COVID-19, farmers witnessed the importance of the USDA Farms to Families Food Box Program which purchased food product from farmers, worked with distributers to package the food into family-size boxes, and transported the food to food banks for those in need. This program showed that food banks purchasing directly from farms helps increase food access and farm profitability.
We have a unique opportunity to identify and build a long-term market and infrastructure where Illinois farmers can supply and grow food directly for Illinois foodbanks. However, to build viable system we need to hear from our farmers, specifically: livestock, dairy, grain and specialty crop farmers. Their input will help explore new markets, understand barriers, and develop infrastructure to build a future Farm-to-Foodbank Program.