Skip to main content

Communities searching for answers to food system gaps

growing garden to feed hungry
University of Illinois Extension will help community address local food systems to improve the vitality and local economy.

URBANA, Ill. – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted vulnerability in our food systems, renewing interest in how to organize food production and consumption to support local economic development and maintaining the health of communities. A free, online University of Illinois Extension webinar will explore how community food systems can revitalize local economies, alleviate food insecurity, and enhance the natural resources.

Hope Michelson, associate professor University of Illinois Department of Agriculture & Consumer Economics will discuss how emerging farmers and growers can access critical agricultural resources to scale up production of local food and invest in agriculture that is environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially just.

Joining Michelson is Joseph Malual, Extension specialist, who will add insight into opportunities for collaboration with universities and community stakeholders to create more resilient local food systems.

The webinar begins at noon March 16. Register online at If you will need an accommodation to participate, please email the contact Nancy Ouedraogo, Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs


Hope Michelson, associate professor University of Illinois Department of Agriculture & Consumer Economics, has extensive experience working with small farmers in developing countries. She investigates how small farmers respond to the expansion of international supply chains, the sourcing of agricultural products, and the buying and selling of agricultural inputs. Currently, Michelson collaborates with Extension educators and specialist to help young and beginning farmers access University resources and technical assistance.

Joseph Malual is an Extension specialist with University of Illinois Extension. He works with communities, organizations, and local governments to identify critical issues and delivers practical educational programs to help communities solve problems. Prior to joining Illinois Extension in 2020, Joseph worked at University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a Community and Economic Development Extension educator where he focused on community capacity building, including organizational development, strategic planning and minority entrepreneurship. Joseph holds a doctorate in Sustainable Agriculture and Development Sociology from Iowa State University.