Capitol Briefs: State allocates additional $14M for grocery startups

Capitol Briefs: State allocates additional $14M for grocery startups

Capitol News Illinois
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Grocery startups can now apply for funding allocated in last year’s $20 million Illinois Grocery Initiative aimed at preventing and eliminating food deserts in Illinois.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which is administering the grants, is currently accepting applications in the second round of funding, which will provide a combined $14 million to grocery stores looking to open in Illinois food deserts.

The agency is also reviewing applications for the first round of programming rolled out earlier this year that could partially fund a total of $3.5 million of equipment upgrades at select stores across the state.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Public Health estimates that more than 3 million Illinoisans are unable to access good food because they might not have enough money, time or reliable transportation to go shopping. Research published by the National Academy of Sciences found that living in food deserts can lead to poor health outcomes.

At the launch, which was hosted in the aisles of a soon-to-be community co-op grocery store in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, local Ald. Angela Clay (46) said that as a mom, she understands how important it is to have “healthy food on the dinner table, and at breakfast time or at snack time.”

“And there are a lot of families where their reality is they are eating out of a liquor store, they are eating out of a gas station,” said Clay. “And we understand that the long-term effects that that has on a family or as a child can be detrimental.”

Gov. JB Pritzker proposed an additional $10 million in funding for the initiative in next year’s budget. A bill sponsored by Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, could expand the initiative to include farmer-owned grocery stores as well.

For more information about the grants and application process, interested parties can visit the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.

Cancer Screening

Illinoisans could have increased access to genetic cancer screening if the General Assembly approves a measure that would require insurance coverage for the tests.

Currently, state law requires insurance to cover genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers, along with annual screenings for prostate, pancreatic, colon, and skin cancers for those who have a family history of cancer or have a recommendation from their doctor.

Under Senate Bill 2697, insurance would cover prevention and susceptibility screening – including genetic testing – for all types of cancer for those with a family history, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, said at a news conference Tuesday. She said Illinoisans with private insurance would pay $50 or less for genetic screening, and it would be free for those on Medicaid.

“One of the things that I tell my patients is that we already know the cure for cancer, and that cure is to not get cancer in the first place,” Vivan Pan, senior genetic counselor at the University of Illinois Cancer Center said. “And cost should not be the reason why people can’t access the lifesaving care that they need.”

Pan said in her experience, roughly 10-15 percent of blood and saliva samples find mutations, which “may indicate an increased risk for disease like cancer.” With those results, Pan said, patients can work with their medical provider to develop personalized plans for screening, prevention, and management.

The proposal unanimously passed committee in last month but Morrison has filed a technical amendment before the bill gets a final vote in the Senate as early as this week.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.


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