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Quick Hit
by Michael Joyce
2:54pm
Mon Feb 22, 2016

Flint Water Crisis Indicative Of Larger Problem Facing Low-Income Communities

Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI,5) was in Chicago this weekend, where he held an open discussion about the Flint water crisis, leading to a very spirited debate on the accountability of government and the risks facing under-served communities in America.

The town of Flint, Michigan, made national headlines when high levels of lead were found in its water supply. It is estimated that up to 9,000 children could have been exposed to the contaminated water. Exposure to lead at a young age is known to result in developmental problems for children. The town is also dealing with an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease, which could possibly be linked to the lead-laden water pipes.

Abrar Quader, director of Government and Community Partnerships for the Compassionate Care Network, told Progress Illinois the issues that led to the Flint water crisis could be repeated wherever there is old infrastructure.

"There are communities like Flint all across America," said Quader. "If we don't address it from a public health perspective, it could become a national epidemic."

"What's happening in Flint, what's happening on the South Side of Chicago, what's happening in all underserved communities, there's a link. We need to connect the dots," Quader added.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:34pm
Tue Mar 25, 2014

Debate Over Chicago's Proposed Plastic Bag Ban Heats Up

Chicagoans are up in arms over a proposal to crackdown on plastic carryout bags in the city.

The Chicago City Council's Committee on Health and Environmental Protection held a two-hour subject matter hearing on Ald. Joe Moreno's (1st) long-stalled plastic bag reduction ordinance Tuesday and debate over the proposal was fierce.

Moreno's ban-the-bag measure, which failed to move forward last year, originally looked to outlaw plastic bags in stores with more than 5,000 square-feet of retail space. But the new ordinance, introduced in the city council earlier this month, would apply to retailers of all sizes. Adding small stores to the mix was seen as a way to garner more support for the measure. 

Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who co-sponsored the new ordinance and chairs the environmental committee, said the proposal, which will likely see some additional tweaks, is slated for a committee vote on April 15.

"I think we're on the right side of being pro-environment," Cardenas told reporters. "I think we have to be on the right side of pro-business, and that's a balancing act." 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:37pm
Thu Mar 20, 2014

Chicago's Food Deserts Are A 'Civil Rights Issue', Experts Say

While the population of food deserts may have arguably decreased over recent years in Chicago, a number of obstacles still remain when it comes to expanding access to healthy foods in the city, according to panelists who discussed the topic Thursday afternoon.

The Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hosted the talk in Chicago to hear from public, private and non-profit leaders who work on food access issues. Back in 2011, the committee issued its own report about Chicago food deserts, a problem it says must be addressed as a civil rights issue.

Food deserts are communities that lack healthy, fresh food options. In Chicago, African-American and Latino communities tend to face the greatest food access challenges. The Emanuel administration has worked to expand food access by bringing in new grocery stores, additional farmers markets and more produce carts, among other efforts.

But panelists at the discussion, held at Kennedy-King College on Chicago's South Side, noted that poverty and high prices for healthy foods are big barriers standing in the way of eliminating food deserts. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:43pm
Fri Jan 10, 2014

A Look At the Proposal To Ban Plastic Foam Food Containers In Chicago (UPDATED)

   Chicago Alds. George Cardenas (12th) and Ed Burke (14th) want to ban the use of Styrofoam and other polystyrene food service products in the city. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
1:24pm
Wed Aug 21, 2013

Experts: New Chicago Food Desert Numbers Not As 'Rosy' As Emanuel Says

Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the population of food deserts in Chicago declined 21 percent over the past two years thanks to 15 new grocery stores, additional farmers markets and more produce carts. But those working on the ground to combat food-access issues in Chicago say the new numbers are not as sweet as they appear.

Quick Hit
by Michael Sandler
11:58am
Wed Jul 25, 2012

Increased Link Acceptance At Farmers' Markets Creates Windfall For Local Farms & Credit Card Users

A federal grant could double the number of Illinois farmers markets that accept electronic payments, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced Tuesday.

During a conference call, Simon said 41 Illinois farmers markets will each receive $1,200 from the Illinois Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Wireless Project. The money comes from a $4 million initiative by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) use at farmers markets.

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