House Approves Bill to Help Reduce Food Deserts

The Illinois House of Representatives Thursday passed a measure to help tackle the increasing number of food deserts in Illinois.   Under Senate Bill 850, co-sponsored by State Representative Ryan Spain (R-Peoria), the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity would be required to provide grants and other forms of financial assistance to privately-owned grocery stores and grocery stores owned by a unit of local government, school district or community college district, located in or to be located in a food desert.

In 2021, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a study that found that 807 census tracts are considered food deserts, meaning urban residents have to travel more than a half mile and rural residents must travel more than 10 miles to get to the nearest grocery store.

During floor debate on the issue, Representative Spain encouraged his colleagues to vote for the bill.   Attached are his comments.

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