Program will help vendors sell fresh groceries in "food deserts"
CHICAGO, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) announced the Illinois Fresh Food Fund application is now available online at www.iff.org/illinois-food. The Fund aims to increase the availability of fresh and healthy food by providing loans and grants to merchants planning to operate full-service grocery stores or food cooperatives in underserved areas.
"I encourage grocers, co-op owners and developers to learn about the Fresh Food Fund and consider whether its financing could help them invest in a neighborhood that needs what they have to offer," said Sen. Collins, a longtime advocate for innovative solutions to the problem of food deserts.
The state has put $10 million into the program; IFF, a nonprofit community development lender, secured a $3.5 million federal grant for the Fund. Several banks and foundations also contributed.
"The relationship between access to fresh foods and overall quality of life, especially for our young people, is well known," Sen. Collins said. "I have always believed a solid investment in good nutrition can help transform struggling neighborhoods."
In addition to securing the funding needed to establish the program, Sen. Collins in 2009 sponsored the Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act. This law implemented a successful strategy to supply facilities with Illinois-grown food products.
Fresh Food Fund loans and grants can be used to purchase land, build a store, renovate or expand an existing business or purchase new equipment such as refrigerated cases. Most projects accepted for financing will receive a combination of loans and grants. Applicants must submit a detailed business plan, references and a certificate of good standing from the State of Illinois.
Years served: 2003 - Present
Committee assignments: Committee of the Whole; Financial Institutions (Chairperson); Insurance (Vice-Chairperson); Appropriations I; Pensions and Investments; Environment; Subcommittee on Amendments; Subcomm.on Pension Enhancements; Subcommittee on Payday Loans.
Biography: Full-time state legislator. Born December 10th in McComb, Mississippi. Studied journalism at Northwestern University; MA from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government; MA in Human Services Administration from Spertus College; MA in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, June 2003. Former Emmy Award-nominated news editor at CBS-TV in Chicago, and 2001 Legislative Fellow with United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.