Senator Turner

SPRINGFIELD – A measure to address food deserts by providing grants for farmer-owned grocery stores or markets led by State Senator Doris Turner advanced out of the Senate on Friday.

“We have to prioritize our small-scale farmers who work every day to ensure we have food on our tables,” said Turner (D-Springfield). “Food deserts across the state deprive people of fresh, nutritious foods. Allowing farmer-owned grocery stores and markets to receive grants will continue our effort of tackling food deserts while providing resources to our farmers and rural communities.”

Senate Bill 3219 would expand on the 2023 Illinois Grocery Initiative by allowing the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide grants for equipment upgrades for farmer-owned grocery stores or markets. Currently, DCEO provides these grants to existing independently owned for-profit grocery stores, cooperative grocery stores or not-for-profit grocery stores.

Turner’s legislation comes in response to conversations with Jenny Sauer-Schmidgall who founded Grab ‘n’ Go Greenhouse, a “self-service” grocery store in Riggston that sells products in the area, providing local products to consumers.

“With the passing of this bill, it will give the opportunity to farmers, community members and rural communities as a whole to create a locally sourced food hub providing affordable, nutritious foods,” said Sauer-Schmidgall. “It will also help provide practical rural development and commerce by keeping all food and revenue within the community itself. It’s a win-win, and I’m proud to be a part of such an important bill on behalf of small farmers everywhere.”

Senate Bill 3219 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and heads to the House for further consideration.