Metro East lawmakers support food desert grocery store plans


Local lawmakers say they are excited about Gov. JB Pritzker’s $20 million proposal to increase access to food in underserved areas around the state.

The Illinois Grocery Initiative provides financial support to municipalities or local independent grocers that set up shop in food deserts, whether rural or urban.

Kevin Schmidt of R-Millstadt, representing District 114, said:Schmidt’s newly drawn districts cover a wide range of metro his East: from rural areas like New his Athens An urban community along the Mississippi River.

“East St. Louis is a food desert,” Schmidt said. “The burden on the public is high. So funding for the betterment of the whole community.”

Schmidt pointed out that there’s a Walmart in nearby Cahokia Heights, but he said that wasn’t enough.

R-Quincy Senator Jill Tracy agreed with Schmidt. The Republican Whip said setting up grocery stores in the food desert was a worthy priority.

Brian Munoz


st louis public radio

Illinois Senators Jill Tracy and R-Quincy at the State Capitol in Springfield on Wednesday. “Grocery store deserts are everywhere in rural Illinois,” Tracy said. The Adams County Republican grew up in the backwoods of southern Illinois and noted that some communities may lack healthy foods.

Pritzker’s initiative included in him $49.6 billion budget Those released earlier this week also included an additional $2 million to help grocers buy local food from Illinois farmers.

“I thought this was a great, innovative idea for promoting agriculture in Illinois,” said Katie Stuart of D-Edwardsville.

Stretching from Fairview Heights to Granite City to Edwardsville, Stuart’s 112th District isn’t considered a food dessert.

If passed, Stuart said it would be important for local officials and business owners to think about people who rely on public transportation. She can be food insecure if someone in her district doesn’t have a car, even if she lives within miles of a grocery store.

Stuart said he likes the governor’s proposal because it attacks the underlying problem with grocery chains pulling back.

“For some reason, they either stopped getting tax benefits or they aren’t making enough money,” Stuart said. “They kick everyone else out of town, take the stake and leave.”


Brian Munoz


st louis public radio

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (right) delivers his annual state and state address Wednesday at the State Capitol in Springfield.

Those communities were stuck in a bad place when the grocery store left, she said.

“Governments at the state and local levels have worked hard to attract large retail food chains to areas in need with tax incentives and fancy ribbon-cutting ceremonies,” Pritzker said. told lawmakers. “But often after the cameras go, so do the commercial chains. Poor rural and urban communities are left arid.”

The Illinois House and Senate will review the governor’s budget proposal in the coming months. This year’s session is scheduled to end in mid-May.

D-Swansea Rep. Jay Hoffman said he was excited to consider all items, including the grocery initiative.

“A lot of people take for granted getting good, healthy food, so they don’t have to think about it every day.”

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