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DeKalb County Community Gardens awarded $200K grant for education and food center

DeKALB – The DeKalb County Community Gardens was awarded a Reinvestment Fund Healthy Food Financing Initiative Grant of $200,000.

According to a news release, the grant will be used for planning related to the construction of the Community Health Education and Food Center.

The Reinvestment Fund awarded $22.6 million in financial assistance to 134 projects through the 2021 round of America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative Targeted Small Grants Program. The grants are designed to be one-time investments of capital into a food retail or food enterprise project and aim to unlock additional sources of capital, catalyze project sustainability, meet financing gaps, and/or enable deeper impact or project reach. With the COVID-19 pandemic revealing how essential grocery stores and their employees are to providing essential goods and services to communities, investments in the food supply chain can help create quality jobs, support local economies, encourage environmental sustainability and prioritize food system equity.

The DeKalb County Community Gardens is one of five programs in Illinois to receive funding. The Community Health Education and Food Center will be the first of its kind in northern Illinois, with the 3-acre campus featuring a 25,000-square-foot facility with a 9,000-square-foot greenhouse, one-acre garden, food aggregation and processing area for local enterprises, 2,000-square-foot commercial shared-use kitchen for food entrepreneurs, flexible indoor/outdoor market and garden and health centers, and space for social service agencies to share, farm-to-table restaurant which seats 150, classroom, meeting and event space and pre-K Childcare Center. The center is intended to be a community hub providing a connecting bridge linking together community, neighborhood,and university and provide careers, career training, food access, entrepreneurial opportunities, business training and social services.

For information about DeKalb County Community Gardens, visit www.dekalbgardens.org