Developing a community-based local food system in Will County, Illinois

Insights from stakeholders’ viewpoints


  • Marie Asma Ben-Othmen UnilaSalle-France
  • Jerry H. Kavouras Lewis University



Advocacy Coalition Framework, Food Justice, County Food Planning, Stakeholders Assessment, Community Building, Urban Agriculture


The interest in and enthusiasm for shifting food systems to community-based and local trajectories have increased exponentially over the past decade. Part of the appeal of community-based, local food systems is their potential to secure access to heal­thy food for local communities, expand sustainable farming practices, promote local food economies, and advance environmental and food justice. Inter­actions and collaborations within the spectrum of the food system’s stakeholders—from farmers to local officials and organizations to local businesses and residents—are the cornerstone for effective food systems tailored to their community’s needs. An increasing number of food system studies have applied stakeholder assessment approaches to map out complex situations among multiple stakeholder groups with different values and viewpoints regard­ing food system change. However, despite being an essential and influential political unit to target, counties have received very little attention in food system studies, as researchers and practitioners often focus on the federal and state levels of inter­vention to design food policies.

This study examined the food system in Will County, Illinois, by applying the advocacy coalition framework and using a qualitative, semi-structured survey to engage a diverse set of stakeholders. The answers to the survey questions offered insights into three overlapping and divergent Will County stakeholder viewpoints (Pragmatic, Environmental and Food Justice Advocate, and Visionary), with the intent of informing and enacting food system transformation at the county level. The discussion within this paper focuses on coalition-building and collaboration between formal and informal groups to empower local communities to develop a dis­tinctive food system identity that promotes com­munity support, collaborative networks, and food justice at the county level.


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Author Biographies

Marie Asma Ben-Othmen, UnilaSalle-France

INTERACT Research Unit–Innovation, Land Management, Agriculture, Agro-Industries, Knowledge, and Technology

Jerry H. Kavouras, Lewis University

Department of Biology



How to Cite

Ben-Othmen, M., & Kavouras, J. (2022). Developing a community-based local food system in Will County, Illinois: Insights from stakeholders’ viewpoints. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(2), 263–283.