News and Stories

white background with five red chiles

June 3, 2022

PEORIA, Ill. – Familiar foods can make foods more accessible to families in need. Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education considers culture when working with food pantries across the state.

In 2021, Peoria Area Food Bank received a grant to supply healthy and culturally relevant foods to Hispanic families. Peoria Area Food Bank reached out to SNAP-Ed at University of Illinois Extension for assistance in identifying… Read More


June 3, 2022

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- Families across Illinois struggle with access to healthy foods. Many people rely on small stores within walking distances of their homes to purchase groceries. Corner stores often do not offer fresh produce or have very limited options.  Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education collaborates with community leaders to create better access to fresh foods for communities in need.

East St. Louis is home to approximately 26,… Read More

box of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and peppers

December 16, 2021

ARTHUR, Ill. – The goal was 1,000 pounds of produce; the scales tipped at over 25,000 pounds. With the enthusiastic support of the growers and buyers at the Arthur Produce Auction, families in the central Illinois communities received bountiful gifts of food.

In early 2019, MaryBeth Massey, University of Illinois Extension program coordinator for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, wanted to address… Read More

Woman wearing a mask standing at a informational table with flyers and handouts

December 13, 2021

HARVEY, Ill. - Throughout Illinois, SNAP-Ed works with communities and families who have the greatest need to provide nutrition and healthy living education and increase access to healthier foods. For many participants, higher cost can be a barrier to purchasing fresh produce. 

In Cook County, SNAP-Ed works with participants in various communities, including Harvey, Riverdale, and Dixmoor. In this area, over 21,000 people are eligible for SNAP benefits and 53% of the population are 185% below the poverty level. In Harvey specifically, the population… Read More

Man sitting in car while wearing a face mask being handed a box of food from a volunteer at a car window

August 10, 2021

RUSHVILLE, Ill. - Food pantries and banks in Illinois communities have seen increased need over the past 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education began work with Central Illinois Foodbank for their monthly food giveaway in Schuyler County. The program currently serves 150-200 households each month, many of whom are French-speaking African immigrants.

According to the 2019 census data, the city of Rushville in… Read More

stacks of boxes on a truckbed and ramp with produce and nutrition education handouts

April 8, 2021

URBANA, Ill. - Illinois SNAP-Ed takes pride in supporting families across the state through our nutrition education programming and community collaboration efforts that focus on obesity prevention and reducing food insecurity.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP-Ed has built upon this work by playing a significant role in increasing food access opportunities for families struggling. Strong existing partnerships allow SNAP-Ed to help local hunger relief organizations in a variety of ways:

  • Access healthy food to serve an increasing number of pantry… Read More
green a-frame sign that says "make half your plate fruits and vegetables" in foreground, round table with nutrition handouts in background

April 5, 2021

URBANA, Ill. - During the pandemic, Illinois SNAP-Ed implemented a multi-faceted response strategy to help Illinois families and the organizations that serve them, including:

  1. Assessing agency support needs,
  2. Increasing virtual nutrition education opportunities,
  3. Developing the Find Food IL Map,
  4. Increasing education reach via print materials and social media, and
  5. Increasing the visibility of community emergency food sites, such as food pantries… Read More
graphic with screenshots of map with Find Food IL

 Over 2 million Illinois residents rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for food assistance according to May totals from Illinois Department of Human Services. That number increased 14.4% from January as the effects of COVID-19 impacted the financial stability and food security of individuals and households across the state.

To help Illinois residents and families meet their basic food needs,… Read More

two females standing with foodbank award plaque in front of Eastern Illinois Foodbank backdrop

University of Illinois Extension received the 2019 Community Partner of the Year Award from the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. This award is given to a community organization each year who has partnered with the Foodbank to help further the mission of alleviating hunger in Eastern Illinois communities.

Over this past year, Extension’s Illinois Nutrition Education Programs worked closely with the Foodbank and five partner agencies to implement nudges in community food pantries.  … Read More

close up of inside of cardboard box with fresh produce inside, including cabbage and peppers

The Partners in Produce program at the Arthur Produce Auction took place twice per week during the 2019 summer growing season. Began by SNAP-Ed, this program brought fresh produce readily to families in need living in the area. Produce buyers voluntarily donated a portion of their purchases during each auction to the program. In addition, growers frequently gave extra produce instead of selling it at a loss. SNAP-Ed team members helped ensure transportation to the locations receiving the donations. During several auctions, the program received over 3000 pounds of… Read More