Illinois food deserts issued addressed
A Southern Illinois legislator is highlighting a new measure that will take effect at the beginning of 2018, which will require the state Department of Agriculture to locate and track food deserts.
The department also will be required to provide a report about the issue to the Illinois General Assembly at the end of every year.
“Coming from Hardin County, one of the most rural counties of Illinois, I know firsthand what it’s like to not have a grocery store close,” State Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown, said in a news release.
“When I want to get groceries for my family, I have to drive to Rosiclare, which is 18 miles away.
“Unfortunately, this is not unique to Hardin County, it is also an issue for Alexander and Gallatin counties, and if you count those three counties alone, that’s nearly 15,000 Illinoisans that do not have easy access to a food supply.
“This new legislation will be so powerful, because it will paint a picture for lawmakers around the state.
“Living near a grocery store is something so many people take for granted, but many Southern Illinoisans do not have the luxury of having easy access to groceries.”
House Bill 3157 was signed into law on Sept. 8, and will take effect in 2018.
The measure will require the Illinois Department of Agriculture to work in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide a report to the General Assembly land-marking food deserts throughout the state and analyzing the health impacts on people who live within food deserts.
“So many people do not have reasonable access to healthy food choices, and as a family nurse practitioner, I have seen the damaging long-term health impacts this has had on the Southern Illinois population,” Phelps Finnie said.
“The report that will be made due to this legislation will help to shine a light on this issue, and hopefully make other folks understand one of the biggest hardships that we face in Southern Illinois.”