* HB3157, which was signed in September…
Tracking food deserts. The Department [of Public Health] shall provide an annual report to the General Assembly by December 31 of each year that identifies the locations of food deserts within the State and provides information about health issues associated with food deserts. If the annual report contains information from the federal government that identifies the locations of food deserts in the State and provides information on health issues associated with food deserts, then the requirements of this Section shall be satisfied. For the purposes of this Section, “food desert” means a location vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, in part due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or healthy food providers.
* Illinois Public Radio…
Representative Sonya Harper, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation, says many communities in and out of Chicago have gone generations without the option of fresh food in their neighborhoods. As a result of this, she says, “…we have a lot of people dying in our communities simply from preventable, diet-related diseases. And I believe it’s because they lack access, it’s because fruits and vegetables are not something that’s easy to come by in their community.”
The information gathered could help bring food stores to neighborhoods where they are needed, and in turn help create jobs.
“And again—just trying to figure out ways—how do we bring in more sources for fresh food, and perhaps even jobs—at that right?” Harper says, “because there is an opportunity as well, for those food retailers to also spur some local economy and bring some more jobs.”
Over the last few years, residents in food deserts have responded by creating communal gardens and urban farms to teach each other how to grow their own food.