URBANA, Ill. – Since Illinois SNAP-Ed launched the Find Food IL Map in 2020, over 16,000 users and 33,000 visits have benefited from being able to find places in their community offering free food or meals, school and summer meal programs, and grocery stores and farmers markets accepting SNAP/LINK or WIC and Senior vouchers. As pandemic-era SNAP benefits return to pre-pandemic levels, and with the summer months ahead for students who relied on school meals, having a centralized tool to search for community food options becomes even more critical.
“We know that many students across the state depend on the daily nutritious meals served at school. The end of the school year can bring a lot of uncertainty when it comes to food for children and their families,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Sanders. “This interactive map will be a great resource for Illinois families to locate free or reduced-price meals near them, especially during the upcoming summer break. The Illinois State Board of Education is proud to partner in this effort.”
Through a partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education, major improvements have recently been made to help families identify what is available in their community more easily.
School & Summer Meal Sites
- Users can now find exactly which meals are offered at a location, including breakfast, lunch, snacks, supper, and weekend meals.
- New site notes provide more details about school and summer meal site food offerings, including if meals are offered for free or reduced prices, and who is eligible.
- Users can now filter between full-service grocery stores and convenience or specialty stores to better find what they need.
The new filtering options help families find all the food resources available in their community. Longtime residents often use the map as a reminder of available food resources, while newcomers unfamiliar with local resources can use it to settle into their community faster.
Illinois SNAP-Ed has plans to continue growing and expanding access to the Find Food IL Map. Accessibility improvements are in progress, and additional categories will be upgraded in the coming months, including senior food resources, farmers markets, and DHS and WIC offices through collaboration with the Illinois Department of Aging, Illinois Department of Human Services, and other state partners.
Illinois SNAP-Ed, delivered by University of Illinois Extension and University of Illinois Health’s Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion, is interested in working with organizations who wish to host links to the map on their website. Those interested in linking to this resource can download hosting guidelines on the Illinois Nutrition Education Programs downloads page or by contacting Caitlin Kownacki for more information.
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. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
ABOUT SNAP-Ed: Making healthy choices is not always easy, especially when families struggle financially. University of Illinois SNAP-Ed provides free, easy solutions to improve the health of Illinois families and communities through strategic partnerships focused on healthy eating, physical activity, and improving access to healthy foods.