Obesity Prevention Advocates Hail Illinois Fresh Food Fund

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - SaludMembers of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity hailed the establishment of the Illinois Fresh Food Fund on Monday. The newly created fund was announced by Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and IFF. The Illinois Fresh Food Fund will finance the creation of full-service grocery stores and, on a case-by-case basis, other retail models that will increase the availability of fresh food in low-access areas.

“This is a major step forward for obesity prevention initiatives,” said Illinois Public Health Institute’s CEO Elissa Bassler. “While we know that having a grocery store does not guarantee healthy eating, it’s one key component of a multi-pronged strategy. The opportunity to eat healthy foods is not distributed equally throughout our communities. When we recognize the social and economic forces contributing to the obesity epidemic, we can start to address this problem with practical solutions, like the ‘Illinois Fresh Food Fund.'”

Currently, at least half a million Illinoisans are stranded in “food deserts” — that is, they have limited or no direct access to stores that sell foods necessary to maintain a healthy diet. “Being healthy is not just about individual responsibility, says the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children’s Executive Director Dr. Adam B. Becker. “Substantial research provides solid evidence that where we live affects how we live.” The Illinois Fresh Food Fund was established in the 2011 Illinois Jobs Now! capital budget bill, in which the Illinois General Assembly approved $10 million to help eliminate food deserts.

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