When we raise our voices together, we can make lasting change. Our advocates support policies that end hunger today and address its causes for the future.
Thanks to the combined efforts of our advocates, we have advanced policies that support food access for all. Here are a few recent highlights of our advocacy.
- American Rescue Plan: Our advocates raised their voices to provide food assistance through a sustained comprehensive COVID-relief package. Thanks in part to their advocacy efforts, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan to provide relief to millions of Americans facing food insecurity.
- Public Charge Update: The Greater Chicago Food Depository advocates for immigrants and their families to safely seek food assistance through programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The former administration toughened restrictions on access to federal aid for some immigrants making it harder for some people to apply for programs like Medicaid and SNAP. We are grateful that the U.S. Department of Justice reserved this course. Here’s our statement on the reversal of public charge rule change.
- Victims of human trafficking, torture and other crimes (VTTC) Program Extension (HB 2118): This bill extends food, medical and cash benefits for foreign-born survivors of human trafficking, torture and other crimes. It will help ease hunger and hardship as these individuals seek their visas. With support from our advocates, this bill passed unanimously out of the House and Senate and was signed into law on August 9.
- SNAP Restaurant Meals (HB 3343): Beginning in 2020, Illinois residents with disabilities, older adults and people experiencing homelessness will be able to use their SNAP benefits to purchase prepared food. For advocates like Brian McRae, this common-sense update is personal. Read his story and more background about this bill on our blog.
- College Students Hunger Relief (SB 351): Low-income students who are pursuing career or technical education programs at community colleges will be eligible for benefits to help them afford nutritious food. Over 40,000 economically-disadvantaged students at 49 community colleges could become eligible for SNAP benefits as a result of this law.
- Hunger Relief Tax Check-Off (SB 2868): Illinois taxpayers will have the opportunity to contribute to the Hunger Relief Fund when they file individual income tax forms. This law will aid Illinois food banks in providing vital support to individuals and families struggling with hunger.
- Healthy Local Food Incentives Fund (HB 4568): The Healthy Local Food Incentives Program provides double-value coupon incentives to SNAP participants to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and farm stands. The new law also calls for a $500,000 investment in this program, strengthening local economies while increasing access to nutritious food.
- The Breakfast After the Bell law is working for kids: Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, schools in which 70 percent or more of the student population is eligible for free or reduced-price meals are required to offer Breakfast After the Bell in Illinois. The law makes breakfast part of the school day and increases access to the nutrition all students require each morning to learn and succeed in the classroom. Early data shows that Illinois saw an increase of more than 20,000 students receiving breakfast in the 2017-18 school year! Read about the impact of Breakfast After the Bell in one local school.
- Secured a waiver of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) time limit for calendar years 2018 and 2019: The SNAP time limit waiver protects access to SNAP benefits for more than 260,000 Illinoisans by waiving a federal requirement that would result in many only being able to receive SNAP benefits for 3 months in a 3-year period. Learn more about the importance of this waiver, and see the Food Depository’s official statement on the waiver.