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Extension Snapshots

Coalition supports food safety, food access, and expansion opportunities through grants to local organizations

lady standing in front of a table full of food pantry donations

Many families struggle to have adequate access to enough nutritious foods to support an active and healthy lifestyle. There is no one answer to the issue and attempting to solve this struggle for families requires a multi-faceted, collaborative approach. University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Education Educator Rebecca Crumrine has seen this approach create immense impact locally and one example is through a coalition she participates in called the Healthy Eating Active Living - Food System Partners (HEAL-FSP).

“A true collaboration of multi-sector partners, HEAL Food System Partners have worked together for six years towards long-term, sustainable changes,” explained Rebecca. “The hope is our team of partners can impact the local meal gap with nutritious foods by working together addressing food access, nutrition education & family stabilization, charitable food technical assistance, and policy & food system development.”

As a portion of the work they do, HEAL-FSP has been able to leverage funds received from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois to support changes across individuals, organizations, communities, and policies. By working across these different areas behavior change, access, and necessary support have been layered across the community creating a much greater collective effect.

To support the work happening in partner organizations, HEAL-FSP created grants that could help build capacity within the local charitable food system, increase healthy food access for the community, enhance food safety operations for organizations, and offer expansion opportunities. In the fall of 2023, these grants received 33 applications and between November 2023 to January 2024, HEAL-FSP was able to award 20 grants totaling $9,500 going directly to food pantries and community gardens across the Tri-County.

“Supporting local systems and needs with our funds has been an important priority, and the grants are just one example of this at work,” stated Rebecca Crumrine. “Partners receiving grants have been able to use the funds to purchase necessary items such as freezers, fridges, shelving, garden tools, raised beds, compost, and more to better serve their community.”

Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed has worked to provide backbone support to the HEAL-FSP coalition across all the action teams since the start. With a proven record of collaboration, HEAL-FSP continues to strive towards solutions driven by the community and for the community to go beyond filling bellies to nourishing bodies and futures for Tri-County residents. If you are interested in learning more about HEAL Food System Partners visit:


Christ Alive! Church food pantry was one of 20 local organizations who received grant money from HEAL-Food System Partners. HEAL-FSP is a team of partners, including U of I Extension SNAP-Education, who work together to address food access, nutrition education & family stabilization, charitable food technical assistance, and policy & food system development.


Rebecca Crumrine joined the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-Education team in October of 2017. Through her time with Extension, she has enjoyed the outreach in her communities. Beginning as a community worker in Peoria County, she provided direct education to qualified audiences, learned a lot about her communities, and enjoyed teaching positive nutrition behaviors and safe, fun physical activity options.

Rebecca moved into the SNAP-Education Program Coordinator position in January of 2019 with unit-wide responsibilities. This role comes with the ability to expand her positive impact through work that helps improve the policies, systems, and environments that influence healthy eating and physical activity. Rebecca collaborates with partners such as food pantries, schools, and health departments. Her work helps to impact families where they eat, learn, live, shop, and play so the healthier choice can become the easier choice to make.


Extension Snapshots are monthly impact reports that share the stories of our programs in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. To have them delivered to you directly sign up using our E-blast registration.


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