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Illinois law aimed at increasing healthy food access

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The state is attempting to bring more availability of healthy foods to underserved areas. A new law allows for retailers to receive grants, loans and other assistance.

HB 2382 establishes a program through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. While still under development, the Department of Human Services will designate a grocery ambassador to assist smaller food retailers.

“There are too many neighborhoods across our state where people do not have access to fresh, healthy food,” said State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria). “Let’s take advantage of our nutritional, locally-sourced food and spur connections with communities that have been left behind. Healthy food can have immense benefits for an individual, but we have to make sure it’s easily available.”

The program builds on efforts that include public-private partnerships to expand purchasing options for those who receive SNAP benefits, empowering the Illinois Commission to End Hunger to advance the From Food Insecurity to Food Equity: A Roadmap to End Hunger plan, a three-part strategy for connecting residents in need to nutrition assistance programs, and promoting equitable access to food for every Illinoisan.

Illinois has seen an estimated 60-percent increase in food insecurity for older adults. About 1 in 5 kids live in poverty.