CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the Illinois Fresh Food Fund, a program to increase the availability of fresh food in food desert areas throughout the state, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
As part of the program, independent grocers and developers will receive funding to create full-service grocery stores in documented low-access areas. To accomplish its goal, the state is partnering with IFF (formerly known as the Illinois Facilities Fund) to administer the fund.
"It is unacceptable that there are still communities in Illinois where residents lack adequate access to fresh food," Quinn said. "We all need nutritious food to live healthy lives. This new program will bring more grocery stores that sell fresh produce to underserved communities across Illinois, which improves health and wellness while also stimulating local economies and creating jobs."
As part of its commitment to the program, Illinois is investing $10 million, and additional funding is coming from a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Treasuryï¿½ï¿½s Healthy Food Financing Initiative as well as from banks and foundations.
Illinois modeled its program after successful efforts in Pennsylvania and New York, which include community engagement plans that educate residents about healthy eating.