PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — When it comes to having healthy eating habits, some teens in Peoria County said they’ve been slacking.
They also said they’ve noticed the food insecurity in the area.
So, those with the Greater Peoria Chapter of Jack and Jill of America decided to try to make a difference… starting by presenting a $2,300 check to Peoria Grown to help transform food disparities in Peoria.
“Helping eliminate food deserts in Peoria because when you look around there’s not much access,” said eighth-grader, Carlton bell, from Jack and Jill. “It’s not accessible to get fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s like gas stations, but that’s only junk food.”
The teens are partnering with Peoria Grown’s Market 309 for the “So fresh, So Clean” events — providing the chance for people to stock up on healthy food and even try something new, that they might not have had the finances to try before.
“We’re not just getting people healthy food that they’re familiar with, but we’re helping them expand and find something new that they like too,” Chris McGregor, ‘Peoria Grown’ board member, said. “By having that variety, we’re really giving people that option that so many of us take for granted.”
McGregor said not a single day goes by that he is not thanked for what his organization does.
“I’m not somebody who takes that very lightly,” he said. “That means so much to me; to hear that and to hear the work we’re doing directly from the folks it benefits… that it is helping them so much.”
According to a recent study from Feeding America — just under 20 percent of children in Peoria County are food insecure. That number jumps to nearly 25 percent for African American children.
Peoria Grown’s founder, Julie Eliathamby, said the community is their biggest advocate.
“Every month, every week seeing them buy into it, wanting us to succeed, coming out to help us… the shoppers themselves,” Eliathamby said. “How much they are committed to the market, wanting us to be here; that speaks volumes.”