The Liberty Prairie Foundation has been engaged in dynamic local food work in Waukegan through the Waukegan Local Food Project which provided capacity building and technical assistance to organizations pursuing various community-based food projects. As an extension of the Waukegan Local Food Project, in 2014 the Prairie Farm Corps expanded its produce distribution reach into under-served communities with a pilot project to provide fresh vegetables to low-income Waukegan residents. Coordinated in partnership with Beacon Place, this pilot increases the capacity of local food systems to deliver fresh produce to under-served populations.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18% of Waukegan residents lived below the poverty level in 2008-2012. According to the USDA, certain sections of Waukegan have also been identified as food deserts, where residents lack nearby access to a full-service grocery store. Beacon Place is located in southeast Waukegan, in a neighborhood identified as a food desert, where it holds a variety of programs for children and families to met the needs of the local community. Click here for more information about Beacon Place.
Through the leadership of the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s outreach interns, produce grown by the Prairie Farm Corps is distributed at Beacon Place each week during their Lunch Bunch and Beacon Backpack programs. This certified organic produce is tended and harvested alongside produce destined for the Libertyville Farmers Market and the WIC program in Round Lake. Each week several varieties of fresh vegetables are harvested and transported to Waukegan, where they are offered at deeply discounted prices to the women who participate in Beacon Place’s parent support program while their children take part in the Lunch Bunch.
In addition to distributing the vegetables at Beacon Place each week, the Liberty Prairie Foundation outreach interns also provide recipes with ideas for preparing produce in a way that will be popular for families. This information is provided in English and Spanish.