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.