Chicago names first food equity policy leader

The new position is part of the city’s effort to tackle food insecurity in Chicago.

SHARE Chicago names first food equity policy leader

Volunteers help break down and repackage food at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file photo

Chicago’s first food equity policy lead was appointed Thursday as officials try to tackle food insecurity.

Ruby Ferguson will serve as the food equity policy lead and will work with the newly established Food Equity Council, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office announced Thursday. The council includes 24 members ranging from city workers to community groups to create a plan for food equity in Chicago.

As part of the role, Ferguson will be employed by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, but she will also report to Lightfoot’s policy office.

She previously worked at the Near North Health Service Corporation, where she was involved in the expansion of the WIC program, clinical dietetic and cooking programs.

The Food Equity Council has already started out with five priorities to tackle which includes: eliminating barriers to food pantry expansion; maximizing nutrition programs and benefits; eliminating barriers to urban farming; supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) food businesses; and leveraging city procurement to support local BIPOC food growers along with businesses and producers.

The efforts come as the city continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic has laid bare the many inequities that exist within our city, with food insecurity and historic disinvestment being among the most pressing,” Lightfoot said in a prepared statement. “Equitably enhancing our city’s food assets and ecosystem thus provides an important opportunity for us to address socioeconomic issues across our city and Ruby is truly the perfect person to help us accomplish this mission.”

In recent months, the Chicago Department of Public Health determined Black Chicagoans’ life expectancy is shorter than non-Black residents, and lack of access to fruits and vegetables was one of the contributing factors.

Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

The Latest
The world-premiere musical, directed by Rob Ashford and set in sultry queer Savannah subcultures, boasts a far from traditional approach.
The justices ruled 8-1 Friday in favor of a 1994 ban on firearms for people under restraining orders to stay away from their spouses or partners.
Larry Neuman, 73, was found with multiple gunshot wounds about 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the 4300 block of West Monroe Street. He was a “pillar” of his beloved West Garfield Park community, according to Pastor Paul Sims of St. Michael Missionary Baptist Church.
The company’s subchapter V filing, which is under Chapter 11, comes after the business marked its 30-year anniversary in 2023.
The Brown, Pink, Green, Orange and Purple Lines are still delayed after a fire Friday morning on the tracks at Adams and Wabash.