JJK Food Agriculture and Nutrition Innovation Center

JJK Food Agriculture and Nutrition (FAN) Innovation Center

The JJK FAN Center is a unique public-private partnership between the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and University of Illinois Extension.

The mission of the JJK FAN Center is to provide quality youth and community programs in STEAM+Ag, food production, nutrition, and physical activity in East St. Louis and beyond. 

The JJK Foundation recently acquired a 12,000 ft² office facility through a generous donation from Landsdowne Up. Over time, the five-phase build-out will include indoor and outdoor urban agriculture demonstration sites, as well as space for youth and community members to engage in hands-on training and certification programs related to growing food, ag innovation, and nutrition for improving health and performance. 

By providing youth and community members with avenues for personal and professional growth, the JJK FAN Innovation Center’s goal is to ignite economic empowerment and community development in the region. Through harnessing the expertise of community partners, this project will set the foundation for sustainably expanding youth engagement and community development in nutrition and local food systems within the city of East St. Louis.

Unit 22 currently supports the JJK FAN project by implementing agriculture, cooking, nutrition, youth leadership, and entrepreneurship programming with the JJK after-school and summer programs. Staff members are also involved in future curriculum development for the Innovation Center, as well as coordinating food production and distribution throughout the community.