Chefs Endorse Innovative Illinois Bill to Make Produce More Affordable
Chefs Rick Bayless, Jason Hammel, Paul Kahan and Matthias Merges have just joined Wholesome Wave CEO Chef Michel Nischan in announcing support for an innovative Illinois bill making its way through the state legislature. HB 6027 would create a $1M Healthy Local Food Incentives Fund for “double-value coupons” which match the value of SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) spent on fruits and vegetables at farmers market throughout the state of IL. These chefs cook with local produce in their restaurants and are calling upon legislators to help low-income families afford Illinois fruits and vegetables for their own kitchens. The bill has passed the Illinois House of Representatives and is being considered by the IL Senate for a vote now.
The Chefs sent Illinois Senate President John Cullerton the below letter, urging him to pass the proposal so it can make its way to Governor Rauner’s desk.
Dear Senate President Cullerton:
We are pleased to write to you in support of HB6027, a bill we believe would make a major impact on ensuring that all Illinoisans have access to the kinds of healthy, fresh, Illinois-grown ingredients we cook with pride in our restaurants. By signing this bill into law, you would greatly boost Illinois farmers’ ability to grow healthy food for residents of our state. Imagine if every family could afford to put a ripe tomato or ear of sweet corn on their dinner table.
Nutrition incentive programs encourage consumers to spend their federal nutrition benefits (LINK, WIC, etc.) on healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, at farmers markets, mobile markets, CSAs and grocery stores by offering a financial match (“nutrition incentive”) based on the amount the customer spends.
If passed and signed into law, HB6027 would bolster nutrition incentive programs throughout the state of Illinois by creating a sustainable funding stream and leveraging additional matching nutrition incentive funds from the federal government. Even better, the dollars through this fund would all flow back to Illinois farmers growing wholesome, fresh food.
Nutrition incentive programs like those run by Experimental Station throughout Illinois have demonstrated their potential to help low-income consumers buy more fruits and vegetables, increasing their consumption of healthy food and ultimately improving public health—reducing the rates of costly diet-related chronic disease, which drive up our state’s Medicaid costs.
We have the privilege of showcasing a bounty of Illinois-grown fruits and vegetables at our restaurants, and we know that H6027 will enable many more residents of Illinois to afford and enjoy the same degree of access. Therefore, we strongly urge you to sign this bill when it comes to your desk.
Chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, Topolobampo
Chef Jason Hammel, Lula Café
Chef Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Avec, The Publican
Chef Matthias Merges, Yusho, Billy Sunday, A10
Chef Michel Nischan, CEO, Wholesome Wave