Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Food Depository, County unveil Food Access Plan

From left to right at the unveiling of the Cook County Food Access Plan, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Vision of Restoration food pantry coordinator Tanya Lee, Cook County Health and Hospitals System CEO John Jay Shannon, Food Depository executive director and CEO Kate Maehr, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and Village of Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins.

A two-year plan led by the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Cook County aims to strengthen the response to food insecurity and expand access to nutritious food in the county's suburbs.

On Tuesday, the Food Depository and County unveiled the Cook County Food Access Plan.

“The plan provides a roadmap to increase the availability of nutritious food for people in need,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The Plan focuses on three goals:

  • Expanding a food insecurity screening and referral system at Cook County Health and Hospitals System locations to increase patient access to community food resources as needed.
  • Creating a Suburban Cook County Child Nutrition work group to increase student access and participation in School Breakfast and Summer Meals programs.
  • Growing the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and incentive programs at farmers markets and farm stands throughout Cook County.
The Plan will be implemented by an appointed task force, which will be housed in the County President’s office.

“Hunger is a solvable problem, but it does require work and collaboration. Together, we want to make sure everyone in our community has access to quality nutrition and healthy food so they can live healthy lives,” said Kate Maehr, Food Depository executive director and CEO.

As the Plan gets underway, the need in Cook County remains high. One in six people – more than 812,000 – are turning to the Food Depository’s network for food each year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 68 million pounds of food, including nearly 24 million pounds of produce.

For more information, read the full Food Access Plan.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Illinois law expands SNAP access to more low-income families

Food Depository advocates asked lawmakers to support S.B. 1847 during Lobby Day in Springfield last May.

An Illinois law that took effect January 1 will enable more low-income families to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Senate Bill 1847 increases the SNAP income limit from 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 165 percent of FPL. The expanded limit provides access to SNAP for families that were making slightly too much to qualify for the program but still struggling. It is estimated that the new law will enable 40,000 previously ineligible families to receive SNAP benefits.

Food Depository staff, volunteers and partner agencies encouraged lawmakers to support the bill during Lobby Day in Springfield last May. It passed through the General Assembly with bipartisan support and was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in July.

For more information about the Food Depository’s advocacy efforts, visit chicagosfoodbank.org/advocacy.