Skip to main content

Extension project seeks to increase health equity and food access in Schuyler County

RUSHVILLE, Ill. – One in 10 people, including one in eight children, in Illinois struggle with hunger every day, according to Feeding America. When families are hungry, making healthier choices can be even more difficult. A new project will focus on promoting food access to the French-speaking community in Schuyler County.

The Health Equity Achieved Together Project is a multi-disciplinary project with Illinois SNAP-Ed and other programs within University of Illinois Extension. Programs 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 Illinois families.

The HEAT Project in Schuyler County seeks to increase racial and health equity by connecting the French-speaking community with available resources. By conducting a needs assessment, the project will develop tailored interventions to promote access to healthy foods and improved physical activity. Key stakeholders include area farmers, a fitness center, and the Grow Rushville Schuyler County Coalition. 

“We have a lot of food, we will be happy to serve the community to increase food access”, says Ron Herr, manager of the Schuyler County Food Basket. 

Possible interventions include growing value crops that the community will readily consume, providing translated materials to food pantries and fitness centers to help the French-speaking population use their services. Other strategies may also follow, depending on needs assessment results.  

“I will be glad to know the types of food the French-population in Rushville would like to have. If they are not available here, I can experiment with growing them in our green house and make them available at the farmers market in Rushville”, says Aaron Ferguson of HomeFresh Products.

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.  

SOURCE: Akinwale Akingbule, SNAP-Ed Educator, University of Illinois Extension

WRITER: Akinwale Akingbule, SNAP-Ed Educator, University of Illinois Extension

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.