Illinois Congressman Jonathan Jackson and Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski Call on USDA to Combat the Rising Amount of Food Deserts (Washington, DC) — Today, Congressman Jonathan Jackson (D-IL) and Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (D-IL) issued a joint letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack to express their deep concern about the rising amount of food deserts in both urban and rural districts in Illinois. Approximately 3.3 million Illinoisans, or roughly one in four residents in the state, live in a food desert.
Congressman Jackson underscored: “It’s a stark paradox that Illinois, boasting some of the most fertile soil in the world and nestled against the Great Lakes — a natural reserve that holds roughly 20% of the world’s surface freshwater — is grappling with a nutritional crisis. Despite our environmental wealth, we are facing a food desert issue that starkly contrasts our potential for agricultural prosperity and food security. This situation should be considered a crisis and our collective response should represent that level of urgency.”
Congresswoman Budzinski shared her thoughts as well: “Every family deserves access to healthy, affordable food options. But situations like the recent closure of the Cahokia Heights Walmart have reduced food access in an already underserved communities. I’ve signed on to support the Food Deserts Act – which would support the operation of grocery stores in areas with limited food access – and I’m pushing to ensure that the Healthy Food Financing Initiative receives full funding in the upcoming budget to provide financial assistance to projects opening or expanding grocery stores where they’re most needed.”
The letter advocates for maximum funding of programs such as the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). These programs aim to improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, incentivize the purchase of fruits and vegetables, and work towards revitalizing low-income communities.
The full letter can be viewed here.
Illinois Congressman Jonathan Jackson and Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski Call on USDA to Combat the Rising Amount of Food Deserts