Northern Illinois Food Bank Roundtable about New Farm to Food Bank Program

Farm to Food Bank Roundtable with Senator Holmes

Illinois State Senator Linda Holmes joined leaders from Northern Illinois Food Bank, IDHS (Illinois Department of Human Services), Feeding Illinois, Greater Chicago Food Depository, local farmers, food pantries, Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Farmers Market Association and the University of Illinois Sustainable Technology Center on November 29, 2023 to discuss the new Farm to Food Bank Program that was passed and funded on the state level earlier this year.

The event was organized by Northern Illinois Food Bank, Greater Chicago Food Depository and Feeding Illinois and was graciously hosted at Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry.

Under the leadership of State Senator Holmes, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB2879, which created the Farm to Food Bank Program, an innovative initiative to increase the supply of nutritious, Illinois-grown and raised products for Illinois families struggling to put food on the table.

The program will connect food banks with farms to purchase products like fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese, meat, and eggs directly from Illinois producers. It will also provide grants to support the aggregation, processing, transportation, storage, or distribution of agricultural products to underserved areas. Food Banks across Illinois have been participating in a Federal Farm to Food Bank program through the USDA that was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, but this new state program is broader, with increased flexibility to meet the needs of both farmers and food banks.

“The new state Farm to Food Bank program is an excellent opportunity to provide commodities to Food Banks across the state while also creating an additional market for our farmers,” said Corey Incandela, Communications and Advocacy Specialist at Northern Illinois Food Bank.

IDHS has been tasked with and is currently in the process of creating rules for the program. This event served as a roundtable discussion regarding program implementation and stakeholder needs so leaders can ensure the Farm to Food Bank program is successful long-term while also providing IDHS with guidance as they write the rules.

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