URBANA, Ill. – One in ten people in Illinois struggle with food insecurity daily, according to Feeding America. When families are hungry, making a healthy food choice is not always the easy choice.
To increase healthier outcomes for communities, SNAP Education at University of Illinois Extension will host two separate regional Illinois Hunger and Health Conferences to catalyze collaboration among local, public and regional organizations working together to address food insecurity and its impact on health.
“It’s exciting to bring food pantries, food banks, and community partners together from across the state to increase awareness and facilitate dialogue about food access and nutrition,” says Kaitlyn Streitmatter, Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed Educator and conference co-organizer. “The conference will provide an opportunity to share ideas and resources impacting community health through food pantries while building a network of support.”
Participants may register for either of the in-person workshop days held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mar. 9 and Mar. 17. Each workshop costs $10 per person and includes a noon meal. Fee waivers are available, and check-in details will be provided at registration, which closes on Feb. 25.
Mar. 9 | Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, IL: Register at go.illinois.edu/HHCnorth
Mar. 17 | Salvation Army in Springfield, IL: Register at go.illinois.edu/HHCcentral
Informational booths will provide opportunity for attendees to learn about SNAP-Ed resources, food pantry set-up, Find Food IL food locator map, and more. Participants will also select two breakout sessions to attend during the workshop. Topics include Nutrition Policy, Community Collaboration, Food Dignity Approach to Customer Service, and Connecting to Local Produce.
Optional food handler training will be offered from 8 to 10 a.m. on each date at no additional cost. Course participants will earn a Food Handlers Certificate upon completion.
The conference will conclude with a keynote speaker and award presentations for Illinois food pantry champions in these categories: Exceptional Food Pantry Manager, Healthy Pantry Initiatives, Outstanding Health Equity Leader, Innovative Food Programming, and Volunteer of the Year.
Organizations are encouraged to submit award nominations before Feb. 25: go.illinois.edu/NominateHHC22
Following Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines, program participants and conference staff will be required to wear a face-covering regardless of vaccination status and practice social distancing.
For questions or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact organizer Kayla Swaar at: go.illinois.edu/ContactHHconference
The Illinois Hunger and Health Conference is sponsored by University of Illinois Extension with funds from USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.
WRITER: Kayla Swaar, 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.