State Offers New Farm to Food Bank Plan

Farm to Food Bank

Illinois State Sen. 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 recently to discuss the new Farm to Food Bank Program that was passed and funded on the state level last year 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.

Holmes pushed for the Illinois General Assembly to pass 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.

Northern Illinois Food Bank, the leading hunger relief organization serving 13 counties in rural and suburban Northern Illinois and member of the Feeding America Network, works with a network of more than 900 food pantries, soup kitchens and feeding programs to serve 540,000 neighbors every month and 82 million meals a year to neighbors facing hunger.

Northern Illinois Food Bank’s mission is to provide nutritious food and resources, with dignity, equity and convenience through partnerships and innovation with a vision of everyone in Northern Illinois having the food they need to thrive.

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