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4-H youth help families put more food on the table

URBANA, Ill. – 4-H is invested in feeding hungry families, and youth are leading the way. The 4-H Food Advocacy Grants program is 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.

“My hope is that we can come together as a community and make sure that no one has to go hungry,” says youth grant recipient Trinity McCormick of White County. “I want people to see that we can change lives for the better, just by helping each other.” 

This grant program allows youth to identify a need in the community and create a program or initiative to create change.

“My mom grew up in the City of Cairo,” says youth grant recipient Jessy Meadows of Massac County. “She remembers it as a thriving city. The residents of this community have no access to purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. This grant will be used to support a new client choice food pantry.” 

In this round, 15 winners from 15 counties were chosen.  This is the third round of grants with $21,000 being dispersed to help increase food access since the program began in January of 2020.

Winners include:  St. John’s Community Mission Garden, Madison County; 4-H STEM Ag Discovery, Iroquois County; Little Roots, Kankakee County; Junior Master Gardener, Grundy County; Zion Food Pantry, Edwards County; Open Minds Garden Club, Madison County; Gardening Classes, Hamilton County; Weekend Food Program, Montgomery County; Continuing to Fight Hunger: One Meal at a Time, Macoupin County; Food Access Matters, Lake County; Food Access Matters Too, McHenry County; The Arrowleaf Client Choice Food Pantry, Massac County; Backpack Buddies, Shelby County; Bake for Success, Will County; and Blessing Boxes for Carmi, White County.

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

“This grant is teaching me to take charge and find ways to help those in need,” says Trinity. 

“I hope that this grant provides some relief to community members struggling to gain access to food during these difficult times,” says Jessy.

Support for this grant came from COMPEER Financial, The BRANDT Foundation, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

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. 

Source: Mark Becker, 4-H Youth Development Specialist,

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,