The award, which promotes access to healthy, affordable, and local foods in under-served communities, will help Gourmet Gorilla continue its community development and food access initiatives. This year a total of $630,000 in awards have been granted to 17 groups who propose innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to resolve barriers to healthy food access among the poorest in the country.
Gourmet Gorilla has identified close to 300 public charter schools and private non-profit schools located in zip codes that intersect Chicago’s three main “food desert” areas. 120,000 children with more than 500,000 related family members that are located in zip codes that transect Chicago’s main food deserts. Illinois is home to 1.6 million elementary school age children, and over 60% of Illinois Children are either overweight or obese. Chicago youth are, on average, 5% more at risk to obesity compared to the rest of the state.
As part of the of the initiative, Gourmet Gorilla, Inc. will increase fresh produce access in underserved communities with a CSA box program using 300 schools as hubs. Working directly with regional farmers and using new and existing distribution and storage infrastructure acquired through this grant, combined with efficient processing and preservation techniques, Gourmet Gorilla will be able to create a food supply chain from which local, sustainably grown organic produce can be sourced and channeled into the underserved areas of the Chicago metropolitan community year round.
Gourmet Gorilla will direct partnerships with rural and urban farms and extend crops beyond the harvest season by upgrading processing, preservation, and storage capabilities. Gourmet Gorilla will also work with collaborators on developing retail products for sale in grocery stores throughout the Midwest as well used as fundraising mechanisms in schools. The reviewers found this to be a well developed model that demonstrates how developing local supply chains can bring down cost while benefitting consumers, farmers and local. Buying locally from contractor growers would significantly reduce cost and allow them to supply competitively priced school lunches. Collaborators are germane to project, have community relationships and support and track record of success.
The concept of healthy, local, prepared meals targeted at the student and family markets are a valuable and needed channel in the food access universe. Gourmet Gorilla is proud to be a working partner with the Wallace Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center. It is with great pleasure that we make this announcement!