SPRINGFIELD – A new law championed by State Senator Christopher Belt will tackle the increasing number of food deserts in Illinois.

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“Everyone should be close to fresh and affordable food ,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “This new Grocery Initiative Act will provide crucial support to grocery stores in areas where they are needed most.”

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Under the new law, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will be required to provide grants and other forms of financial assistance to grocery stores located in or to be located in a food desert. This aims to help mitigate the issue of food deserts across the state. An area is considered a food desert when urban residents have to travel more than a half-mile and rural residents more than 10 miles to get to the nearest grocery store.

“When communities lack grocery stores, it can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of residents,” said Belt. “With this new initiative, we are heading in the right direction to ensure everyone has easy access to healthy food.”

Senate Bill 850 was signed Friday.

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