Many of Illinois' urban communities lack access to fresh produce and other nutritious grocery goods. In fact, records show that at least 500,000 Illinoisans have limited or no direct access to local stores. Illinois intends to create a national model for stimulating local urban economies while improving the health and wellness of local residents.
Towards that end, the Fresh Food Fund was established in the 2009 Illinois Jobs Now! capital bill to incentivize and facilitate the creation of grocery stores in urban communities statewide. DCEO's Office of Urban Assistance will administer $10 million in incentives designed to draw more grocery stores to the neediest areas. The office will also oversee any federal or foundation grants which further this endeavor.
Other efforts are underway to use innovative community-based initiatives to address this growing problem. The Illinois Food Marketing Task Force and the Illinois Fresh Food Financing Initiative are working to outline strategies that leverage federal, state, and local resources to invest in urban communities. DCEO's Office of Urban Assistance will work closely with these groups to ensure that the shared vision of eliminating food deserts in Illinois becomes a reality.
Additionally, the office will recommend policies to the General Assembly and the Governor and serve as an advocate for implementing the recommendations of the Illinois Food Marketing Task Force. Read the July 2009 report by The Food Trust that was produced with input from members of the Illinois Food Marketing Task Force and officials from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.