SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – With many urban areas in the State of Illinois containing vast food deserts and a lack of nutritional resources, state Rep. Mary E. Flowers, D-Chicago, is co-sponsoring a measure that will make it easier for small farmers and community organizations to provide fresh produce within designated urban agriculture zones.
“Systemic issues like the food desert epidemic plaguing African American communities at rates much higher than our counterparts need to be addressed and eradicated,” said Flowers. “Creating these agricultural zones within our communities will empower residents to create and grow for themselves instead of being forced to rely on the government or private grocery stores to bring in the fresh foods that our families and children need.”
House Bill 3418 would allow local governments to work with community members and organizations to create urban agricultural zones to combat food deserts. Food deserts are defined as areas that lack access to healthy foods or where it is difficult to purchase them. Designated urban agricultural zones would empower residents by encouraging urban farming and cultivation. Properties designated as zones could be eligible for property tax abatement and reduction as well as discounted rates on water, electricity and resources used toward the cultivation of produce.
“Since my time as the executive director of Grow Greater Englewood, I have been fighting for urban agriculture initiatives help my neighbors learn to make and grow healthy foods,” said state Rep. Sonya Harper, the bill’s principal sponsor. “There is not enough being done to help people in our communities live healthier lives, and this bill helps us finally do that.”
House Bill 3418 recently passed out of the House and is expected to be heard for consideration in the Senate in the very near future.
Flowers represents the 31st district, which includes portions of the Auburn-Gresham community in Chicago, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, Countryside and others. For more information, please contact Rep. Flowers’ constituent service office at 773-471-5200 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.