Farm Bureau Looking to Address Food Access
Cook County Farm Bureau® leaders are actively researching and developing a policy proposal to address food access. Nearly 39.5 million people in the United States are living in low-income and low food access areas, more commonly known as ‘food deserts.’
Food deserts are disproportionately found in high-poverty areas typically characterized with higher rates of abandoned or vacant homes, residents with lower levels of education, and higher rates of unemployment. Food deserts are also a disproportionate reality for Black communities. Lack of access to fresh, healthy foods may contribute to poor diet, obesity, and other diet-related illness.
The draft policy language provides that Farm Bureau supports:
- Incentivizing grocery stores in underserved areas.
- Programs to encourage heathy eating, food preparation, and proper food storage.
- Healthy food preparation programs.
- The development of policies to support grocery stores and neighborhood-based farmers’ markets.
- Streamlining the process for permitting and launching grocery stores.
- Partnering with the community when selecting food desert measurements, policies, and interventions.
- Expanding pilot efforts allowing customers to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase groceries online not including service fees and delivery charges.
- Food insecurity networks like food banks, non-profit grocers, and produce carts.
- Streamlining food pantry expansions as a stopgap measure.
Leaders recognize that any approach to address food access should include short- and long-term solutions as well as the underlying causes of inequal food access.
Members interested in sharing their thoughts, comments, and feedback are encouraged to contact Bona Heinsohn at [email protected].