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Illinois governor touts plan to address poverty and hunger

March 14, 2021 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has touted a new plan for helping end hunger in Illinois that includes improved technology and better collaboration between state agencies and advocacy groups.

Pritzker announced strategies Thursday that he said will better help Illinoisans get connected to nutrition assistance programs and promote better food access.

“We must take an integrative, holistic approach to addressing hunger and poverty,” Pritzker said in a statement.

There’s an emphasis on technology, for example modernizing calling for a mobile-friendly applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

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Other parts of the plan include a public-private marketing program, making school meal programs run throughout the year and ensuring farmers markets or food pantries are easier to get to, like putting them near transportation hubs or public benefits offices.

The plan comes as the state is facing higher levels of hunger and unemployment because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the pandemic roughly 1.6 million residents of Illinois residents participated in SNAP. In the initial months of the pandemic, the average number of weekly SNAP applications swelled to over 35,000 from 9,000.