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Illinois Grocery Initiative

The Illinois Grocery Initiative, authorized by Public Act 103-0561, is intended to address inadequate access to fresh foods, especially in “food deserts”. Food deserts are defined as census tracts meeting specific criteria related to poverty and access to fresh foods.  Food deserts may exist in both urban and rural areas.

The Illinois Grocery Initiative includes the following components:

Equipment Upgrades Grant Program

  • The Illinois Grocery Initiative Equipment Upgrades Grant Program will provide grants for energy-efficient equipment upgrades for existing independently owned for-profit grocery stores, cooperative grocery stores, or not-for-profit grocery stores.
  • Applications for the first round of the program through the competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) process closed on March 25, 2024.  DCEO is currently reviewing applications received for eligibility and merit.
  • DCEO expects to offer additional rounds of funding for equipment upgrades in the future.

New Stores in Food Deserts Grant Program

  • The second Illinois Grocery Initiative program offering will combat food insecurity by offering competitive grants to support the establishment of new grocery stores in food deserts.
  • Local units of government and small businesses (with fewer than 500 employees and no more than four existing grocery stores) are eligible to apply.
  • Grants will provide reimbursement to eligible applicants for both capital and non-capital costs associated with establishing sustainable grocery stores located in food deserts.
  • Potential applicants interested in complete information on eligibility, program parameters, and how to apply can review the New Stores in Food Deserts Grant Opportunity page.
  • DCEO will conduct two technical assistance webinars in April.  See links below to register.