URBANA, Ill. – Families across Illinois have more food on their table, and youth are leading the way.  4-H is investing in the next generation of food access leaders with a first round of Food Advocacy Grants aimed at helping youth become food advocates right in their own communities.

The grants provide financial support to youth-led projects aimed at increasing food security throughout Illinois.

“We are giving particular attention to funding projects that are addressing food security in areas where food access is of greatest concern, particularly rural areas,” says Mark Becker, Illinois 4-H food systems specialist. “The goal of the grant is to create a network of youth leaders around the state who have real world experience conducting impactful service projects that shift the conversation around food insecurity in Illinois.”

The grant initiative creates a network of youth leaders around Illinois who are personally invested in creating food security in their community. 

“These grants are designed to help young people take action on issues that really matter to them,” Becker says. “Youth aren’t often given the opportunity to experience grant work, and this was so exciting to see them stepping up and participating.”

With the successful distribution of the first grants, more funds will be available in late spring and hope to reach a geographically-diverse applicant pool in areas heavily impacted by food insecurity. Educators interested should contact Becker at mbbecker@illinois.edu.

In this first round, 11 winners from nine counties were chosen. Winners include:  Community Garden, DeKalb County; Fun With Food, Williamson County; COVID Care A Lots, White County; Suppers for Security, Cook County; Micro Food Pantry, Williamson County; Micro Pantry, Will County; Freezing Out Hunger, Macoupin County; Hands to Larger Service, Shelby County; Weekend Backpack Food Program, Montgomery County; Nosh Packs Nutrition Bags for Kids, Adams County; and Bags of Hope, Will County.

Source:  Mark Becker, Illinois 4-H Food Systems Specialist, State 4-H Office
Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, State 4-H Office

About Extension:  Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.