The Purple Clarion

The Student News Site of Harrisburg High School

The Purple Clarion

The Purple Clarion

Deserts of food insecurity found across Illinois

Francesca Messerschmidt
Junior Brilee Holbrook’s food donation project collects donations of canned food. Projects like Holbrook’s are one way to help those fighting food insecurity. Her drive will run until Oct. 5.

Food deserts are a nationwide phenomenon that also affect more than three million Illinois residents. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) a food desert is: “regions of the country (that) often feature large proportions of households with low incomes, inadequate access to transportation, and a limited number of food retailers providing fresh produce and healthy groceries for affordable prices.” The state is taking steps to fix the issue, but more can be done.

Earlier this year, governor JB Pritzker signed a bill titled the Illinois Grocery Initiative. This bill allocated $20 million to grocery stores around the state, including funding new stores. The bill was created to target urban areas and rural populations most. 

Harrisburg is no stranger to this issue. An interactive map on the USDA’s website shows that both Harrisburg and Eldorado are considered low income and low access areas to grocery stores as of 2019. Luckily, steps are being taken to make food more accessible to the population.  

Transport companies can help to combat the issue of a lack of access to grocery stores. Locally, Rides Mass Transit District recently implemented a new route in Harrisburg known as the Bulldog Route. The route runs Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m to 5 p.m and has stops at Walmart, Kroger and the 4-Cs. This route allows for residents who may not have access to a car to do their shopping for the week.

There are things that students can do to help though. HHS hosts multiple food drives throughout the year, contributing to those whether it be small or large can help greatly. Another solution that HHS could potentially contribute towards is founding a community garden. The Horticulture class is dedicated to growing plants and crops. The formation and upkeep of a localized community garden could give families who might otherwise not have access to produce the opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables.

America’s lack of walkable communities also contributes to the problem. Walkable communities feature accessible sidewalks, crosswalks, public transportation, and don’t center cars as the number one mode of transportation. Even though Illinois is taking steps, there are still miles to go before the issue is completely solved. While the bike path is somewhere people can walk that goes all the way through town, it’s difficult to get to the other side of the road from there. Harrisburg lacks proper crosswalks at many intersections which could make it dangerous to attempt to cross. If somebody wanted to go to Walmart from the bike path, crossing Commercial Street could result in them being hit since there is not a crosswalk. 

Overall, Illinois is littered with food deserts and more needs to be done to make food accessible and available to everyone in the state. With work from everybody, one day, food deserts could be a thing of the past.


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Francesca Messerschmidt, Staff Writer
Francesca Messerschmidt (she/her) is a senior at Harrisburg High School. This is her third year on the Purple Clarion staff.  She participates in theatre, plays percussion in the band is on the speech team, participates in Key Club and Art Club. She is passionate about music.  Francesca also cares about animals and things going on in the world around her. In her spare time, she likes to play games, listen to music and draw. After high school, she plans to continue pursuing journalism as a career.   “Student journalism is important to me because it helps give students a voice and a platform to educate themselves and others about current events and can help people learn how to make the world a better place.”

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