State Rep. Harper Pushes for Greater Access to Healthy Food Across Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, IL – To help combat the lack of access to healthy foods  in the South Side of Chicago, state Rep. Sonya Harper, D–Chicago, passed legislation to extend the state’s Healthy Local Food Incentives Program.

“The severity of limited healthy food options is a significant issue in my district and across the south and west sides of Chicago,” said Harper. “Having limited or no healthy options to choose from has long-lasting negative effects on health and well-being, especially for those who rely on public assistance to obtain nutritious food. Eating healthy food should not be limited to the economically privileged.”

Harper’s legislation extends the state’s Healthy Local Food Incentives Program, which was set to expire next year. The program will create and issue grants to farmers markets to double the value of a Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient’s purchasing power, expanding access to fresh, locally grown foods to low-income families. The Healthy Local Food Incentives Program has yet to receive any funding and includes a mandated expiration date requested by Governor Bruce Rauner. Through this legislation, which passed the Illinois House of Representatives last week with unanimous bipartisan support, Harper wants to continue working to secure funding for the grants that help residents access and buy healthy foods.

“This will help not only people in need buy the food they need, but also incentivize farmers markets to apply for grants to sell their goods and produce to people of all income levels,” said Harper. “We can’t wait any longer to get the resources to people so they can take care of their families and develop healthy eating habits.”