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The Chicago Community Trust and Kinship Foundation have come together and created The Food to Market Challenge, to improve the supply of local and sustainable food in the Chicago area. It’s a winner take all competition that will be held at a public event on October 26 when the finalists present their ideas. The competition is closed and 311 people, of which 77 are farmers, are getting to work.
So why can’t supermarkets, and their executives and associates, create something similar? After all, who better?
As our industry struggles with flat sales, new formats and increased competition, wouldn’t it be a great boost to add excitement by building teams and pooling our intelligence to solve problems and issues we all face – to say nothing of the great publicity and image building that would be achieved.
In an era where big food is looked down upon, we must do everything we can to build confidence with our shoppers.
Besides local farmers, McCormick Place and the Chicago Botanic Garden are also partnering on a plan to connect produce grown by small farmers to the convention center, restaurants and health clinics in Chicago that are part of the Women, Infants and Children program. By the way, it is interesting to note that for the past three years, these two entities have worked together to tend to a 20,000-square-foot rooftop garden that grows food served in the convention center.
It’s time for supermarkets to step up and become involved in and develop programs like this, the Millennial shopper rewards companies that are involved in their communities, and are working towards a more sustainable environment – its just good business to be involved.
The competition will select up to five finalists in mid-June; and by the way, one of the five judges is our friend, Bob Mariano, president and CEO of Roundy's supermarkets.