Project addresses food security issues in Region

One in 10 people in Illinois struggles with hunger every day, including one in eight children, according to Feeding America. 

When families are hungry, making healthier choices can be even more difficult. 

A new project in Southern Illinois, focused on food access, was recently allocated funds through University of Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education.

The Health Equity Achieved Together, HEAT, project is a multi-disciplinary program with Illinois SNAP-Ed and other programs within University of Illinois Extension. 

Projects will develop and implement innovative strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce community barriers to healthier lifestyles. 

Working with others across Extension enables the HEAT Project to leverage their expertise and networks across Illinois, thereby maximizing the positive impact on the health of the state’s families. 

The Southern Illinois Food Access project will facilitate long-lasting solutions to logistical challenges facing food pantries in the region.  

The project will establish a regional advisory board to outline solutions and address issues identified during the project. 

Initially, Southern Illinois Food Access will focus on Alexander, Gallatin, Johnson and Pulaski counties and will later expand to 11 total counties. 

SNAP-Ed staff will continue to promote healthy eating and physical activity through nutrition education programming to individuals and families in the area. 

Additional lessons will take place from Illinois 4-H, such as Health Rocks. 

“(By) working with food pantries, food banks and other stakeholders in our area, University of Illinois Extension has discovered many needs we believe can be met with some strategic planning and coordination,” says Jody Johnson, county director for University of Illinois Extension. 

“These funds will act as the seed money needed to help leverage other resources in the region, as well as resources from outside the region – such as engaging for-profit businesses to bring mobile groceries to a community like Cairo.”

In addition, HEAT Project awardees will engage with local stakeholders and community members as they design and implement their initiatives. 

Projects will also plan sustainability and inclusion strategies to ensure that the projects have long-lasting community impact.  

To learn more about the project, contact Jody Johnson at the Johnson County Extension office by phone at 618-658-5321 or by email at

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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