- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - The Bosch Supermarket Park Project could use some seed money.

A group of not-for-profit organizations wants to expand plans to promote and distribute products grown in urban produce gardens in Peoria. To do that, the group might seek up to $175,000 in municipal funds.

“Really, the mission behind this is to enhance food access, but healthy food access,” said Kim Keenan, co-director of The gitm Foundation, which is shepherding the project. “That’s the cornerstone of why we have issues like obesity.

“People will go to what’s easiest, cheapest and most filling. And those items don’t tend to be the healthiest.”

Healthy crops appear to be developing in community gardens in Peoria neighborhoods deemed “food deserts” - areas bereft of full-line grocery stores.

Among the plots is one established last year at Western and Marquette avenues - just north of Garden Street, appropriately - in which gitm partnered with Bosch Garden & Watering of Peoria.

That garden and others are producing tomatoes, peppers, spinach, grapes and other items, Keenan said. The beneficiaries are expected to be residents of South Peoria and the North Valley, where fresh produce might be difficult to find.

“This speaks to the physical health of individuals in low-income neighborhoods who, because they can’t obtain those kind of things, are negatively impacted physically and mentally,” 1st District City Councilwoman Denise Moore said Monday. “My concept of this thing is very holistic.”

According to Moore, the project goal is to establish a farmers market-type operation on Western Avenue and to join with the local YMCA in establishing a mobile version. A retrofitted, refrigerated van would be used for that.

City money could be used to help finance coordination of nutrition education and hiring a part-time staff that can monitor the six gitm-affiliated gardens, Keenan said. Those funds also would help pay for the van and insurance policies necessary for it and the gardens.

The one-time city expenditure could come from a combination of sources, Moore said. Money from federal community-development block grants and the South Village tax-increment financing district are possibilities.

During its meeting Tuesday night, the council is expected to receive a report about the project. No funding vote is to be taken. Moore said a request for money might be considered during the council meeting July 8.

Money also is being sought from other sources, according to city officials.

“The long term is finding someone to replace Aldi’s,” Moore said about a South Peoria grocery that closed in January. “But in order to address the main issue of lack of produce, that’s where (this project) is coming into play.”


Source: (Peoria) Journal Star, https://bit.ly/1jPj0J2


Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

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