State Senator Doris Turner is encouraging local grocers to apply for funding through the Illinois Grocery Initiative for the purchase of updated energy-efficient equipment.
“We must do everything in our power to eliminate the food deserts across our state,” said Turner (D-Springfield). “Through these grants, local grocers will be able to maintain residents’ access to fresh food.”
Rising energy costs lead to outdated equipment, which presents a major expense for small community grocers. Under the Equipment Upgrades Program, eligible grocers can apply for grants to upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment; refrigeration units and freezers; lighting systems; and other systems providing significant energy savings.
Eligible grocers should apply online by March 25. In order to support the businesses most in-need, grocers must be independently-owned with fewer than 500 employees and no more than four grocery stores. Grocery stores located in food deserts as defined by the USDA map will be given priority.
The Equipment Upgrades Program is the first program to be rolled out as a part of the Illinois Grocery Initiative’s efforts to address food insecurity by supporting local grocers and reducing food deserts.
“By boosting economic development in areas that need it, we will be able to successfully combat food insecurity,” said Turner. “This funding will help local grocers to get fresh food for their communities.”