CHICAGO (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill Friday that invests $20 million toward ridding the state of “food deserts.”
The funding will be used to support existing grocers and encourage new grocery stores to open.
“The Illinois Grocery Initiative is the latest expansion of our holistic approach to ensuring Illinois families can reach the big building blocks of a good life,” said Pritzker. “When our residents struggle to keep a roof over their head, can’t put food on the table, or have to choose between paying for basic medical care and keeping the lights on—that’s a failure of the system. That’s why I’m proud to sign into law the Illinois Grocery Initiative—a first-of-its-kind $20 million investment to open or expand grocery stores in underserved rural towns and urban neighborhoods.”
Those receiving grants will then be designated as high-impact businesses, which opens the door for more tax credits and other incentives.
“The Illinois Grocery Initiative increases access to healthy foods while spurring economic development in the areas that need it the most. This $20 million investment will help open new grocery stores in food deserts while supporting existing grocery stores with much-needed upgrades. DCEO will also commission a study to gather a better understanding of food insecurity and food deserts across the state to inform future rounds of this program,”said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director Kristin Richards.
According to a 2021 Illinois Department of Public Health report, just over 3 million Illinois residents live in a food desert.