Local Food Planning and Technical Assistance

Enterprises focused on the production, processing, and distribution of local food have the potential to energize and transform communities throughout the Midwest. Local food enterprises promote healthy communities, encourage entrepreneurship, generate jobs and tax revenues, strengthen cultural identity, help preserve the environment, and diversify local economies.

The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) at Northern Illinois University helps decision-makers develop effective local food policies and plan, design, implement, and promote a broad array of sustainable local food initiatives ranging from community food kitchens and incubators to large-scale facility re-use and redevelopment.  Local food-related services CGS provides include:

Strategic Opportunity Assessment

Analyzing the demographic, economic, regulatory, environmental, and land use assets of a community to identify viable local food-related development and re-use opportunities.

Local Food Planning 

Working with community partners to develop a compelling vision, mission, goals, strategies, and metrics that leverage available resources address the triple bottom line of people,
profit, and planet. 

Feasibility Studies

Assessing the viability of specific local food project ideas. One useful feasibility tool is Health Impact Assessments that help communities make informed choices about improving public health through community design.

Policy Analysis Development

Engaging key stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels to develop or strengthen food policy at the system or subsystem level.

Public Participation Processes

Educating residents, business people, and civic leaders about local food and generating consensus around how best to leverage community assets to meet food-related needs.

Technical Assistance 

Providing specialized knowledge and support for food-related issues including food security, innovative financial resources, regulatory updates, and planning tools (e.g., transfer of development rights and peri-urban agriculture opportunities).

Recent example:

Suburban Cook County Food System Assessment


For additional information about CGS’s capabilities in local food-related services or to discuss potential project opportunities, please contact:

Patricia Inman
Senior Research Associate


Sandra Streed
Senior Research Associate

Local Food Affiliations

CGS is involved in many organizations and forums that focus on building healthy and sustainable local food
programs, systems, and policies. Examples of CGS’s current local food-related affiliations are:

  • Advocates for Urban Agriculture
  • Bioneers (Great Lakes Region)
  • Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
  • Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council
  • Cook County Department of Public Health
  • Fresh Taste
  • Good Greens (USDA Regional Network)
  • IFF (a Community Development Financial Institution)
  • Illinois Department of Agriculture
  • Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
  • Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Illinois Farm Bureau
  • Illinois Farmers’ Market Association
  • Illinois Green Economy Network
  • Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
  • Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council
  • Illinois Public Health Association
  • Illinois Stewardship Alliance
  • The Land Connection
  • Regional Development Australia
  • Slow Food
  • International Slow Food Conference
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • University of Illinois Chicago- CEED
  • Wisconsin Local Food Network