Yesterday (July 29, 2012), Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and IFF (formerly Illinois Facilities Fund) announced the newly established Illinois Fresh Food Fund. Created in 2011 with an initial investment of $10 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding, the purpose of the Illinois Fresh Food Fund is to support healthy food retail in the highest-need communities across the state. Additional funding for the program comes from a $3.5 million grant that IFF secured through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative and also from banks and foundations. The Illinois Fresh Food Fund is modeled primarily after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative. The initiative uses market analysis, leveraged capital, and public policy to stimulate grocery store development and increase the availability of fresh food in documented low access areas.
CLOCC has supported the creation of the Illinois Fresh Food Fund over the last several years, prioritizing it as a Policy Agenda item. CLOCC’s Executive Director, Dr. Adam Becker, participated in the Illinois Food Marketing Task Force which began working in 2008 and submitted recommendations to the Governor’s Office in 2009 to create a fresh food financing initiative. In 2010, the General Assembly passed SJR 0072, calling upon DCEO to create the Illinois Fresh Food Fund.
CLOCC and its federally-funded Communities Putting Prevention to Work project, Healthy Places, applaud the Illinois Fresh Food Fund as one mechanism to address food access issues in the State of Illinois. We will promote the availability of these funds to encourage retailers to serve Chicago communities and strive to ensure that the Illinois Fresh Food Fund is coordinated with other current local efforts through Healthy Places aiming to maximize healthy food access in Chicago. These other efforts include: the creation of the Chicago Food Plan, piloting a healthy corner store initiative, support for healthy vending in government buildings and other locations, and establishing parameters for a network of mobile produce carts in underserved communities across the city. We have already seen a number of successes in each of these efforts. For more information on progress and ways to get involved, go to www.healthyplaceschicago.org.
We encourage the CLOCC network and Healthy Places partners to spread the word about the Illinois Fresh Food Fund and encourage food entrepreneurs to consider applying, especially those that would be well-supported by local communities. For more information on the Illinois Fresh Food Fund, please visit http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=1&RecNum=10436.