VENICE, Ill. – As part of efforts to reduce food deserts, state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, joined state Sen. Christopher Belt, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and local leaders Friday at the Venice Park District Recreation Hall for the signing of a new law that will enable grocery stores found in food deserts to be eligible to receive state grants and incentives from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
“Reduced access to quality, affordable food contributes to poor nutrition and food insecurity,” Hoffman said. “The effects of food deserts have been particularly harmful toward low-income communities and have created long-term health consequences for too many families. It’s critical that we step up and encourage investment in existing and new grocery stores in these food deserts so that we may create better outcomes while also securing more jobs.”
Introduced by Belt and Chief Cosponsored by Hoffman in the House, Senate Bill 850 requires DCEO – subject to appropriation – to develop and provide grants and other forms of assistance to privately-owned, co-operatives, not-for-profit, local government-run, school district or community college district-operated grocery stores located in a food desert. Additionally, DCEO is required to conduct a study on food insecurity in urban and rural food deserts.
A 2021 report to the General Assembly from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) estimating the widespread effects of food deserts across the state can be viewed at https://www.ilga.gov/reports/ReportsSubmitted/3015RSGAEmail5772RSGAAttachFood%20Desert%20Annual%20Report%202021.pdf.
“I want to commend Sen. Belt for his strong advocacy on this initiative,” Hoffman said. “More work remains, but this is going to be a helpful component. It’s going to help a lot of families in communities across our state, and I’m looking forward to seeing these grants roll out soon.”
For more information, please contact RepJayHoffman@gmail.com.