Local leaders push to make fresh, local food more accessible

By WEEK Reporter

Local leaders push to make fresh, local food more accessible

June 14, 2014 Updated Jun 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Local leaders are pushing to make fresh food available to everyone.

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon toured Peoria's Riverfront Market Saturday to promote its cooperation with residents participating in the Link Program.

About 25 percent of Illinois' 400 markets have the technology necessary to run the cards that access Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

Simon says this has a huge impact on the availability of quality food for Link patrons. Roughly one in six Illinoisians rely on Link for food purchases.

Link card users can take money off their cards and use them at the market. OSF is spearheading a double value program, that will match up to $25.

The money matched can only be used for fresh produce, meats and cheese.

One Peoria mom comes every Saturday, but she says that wouldn't be possible with out the Link benefits.

"It's actually a really big deal to me because it makes it twice as affordable for me to be able to actually come to the farmer's market," said Peoria mother Kyla Cadwell. "My daughter is getting to the age now where she's actually able to eat fresh foods, so it's really fun to be able to give her fresh food."

"If we have more of us eating a healthy diet, that mean the less we're spending on healthcare and it also means we're investing in the local economy," said Simon.

The Peoria Riverfront Market will be open every Saturday until the end of September.

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