Access to Healthy Foods

What does it mean to have access to healthy foods?

Being able to access to affordable foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy allows residents to have a selection of healthier foods to include in their meals which leads to healthier communities. Currently, there are communities in suburban Cook County without access to affordable healthy food options.

What is CCDPH Doing to Improve Access to Healthy Foods?

  • At the state level:
    • Illinois Fresh Food Fund (IFFF), a statewide financing program designed to attract supermarkets and grocery stores to under-served urban and rural communities. Developed as a public-private partnership, IFFF serves the financing needs of operators located or locating in communities where infrastructure costs and credit are not met by financial institutions. The initiative uses market analysis, leveraged capital, and public policy to stimulate supermarket development and increase the availability of fresh foods in low-income neighborhoods.
    • Learn more about IFFF.
    • Get involved in state policy supporting access to healthy foods here.
  • At the county level:
    • CCDPH commissioned a report on access to stores and other places people buy food in suburban Cook County. The report found that there are areas across the suburban region in which residents have less access to supermarkets that sell a variety of healthy foods.
    • In 2011, CCDPH convened the Suburban Cook County Food System Steering Committee in order to assess the current food system in suburban Cook County, from farming to food waste as it impacts nutrition-related health. This led to the development of a report in 2012 from the committee, The Suburban Cook County Food System: An Assessment and Recommendations.
  • At the municipal level:
    • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) - is the official regional planning organization for the northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. CMAP developed and now guides the implementation of GO TO 2040, metropolitan Chicago's first comprehensive regional plan in more than 100 years. To address anticipated population growth of more than 2 million new residents, GO TO 2040 establishes coordinated strategies that help the region's 284 communities address food access, transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues.
    • CCDPH is supporting municipalities in completing or updating a food systems chapter in their comprehensive plans. View specific municipalities we are working with here.
  • Get Involved
    • Join an Alliance for Healthy & Active Communities (AHAC) to learn how to increase the availability, accessibility, and demand for healthy nutritional options in your own community.
    • Become a member of Cook County Connects. Cook County Connects features an online social network connecting hundreds of people working to make suburban Cook County a healthier place to live, work, and play. Members come from entities throughout suburban Cook County, including community-based organizations, local governments, and school systems. Join today to connect with, learn from, and share best practices with others in suburban Cook County. To join, fill out a member request form.