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Find Food IL Map Increases Awareness of Community Food Resources

| Illinois

May 06, 2022

Summary
Illinois residents have a new tool to meet their basic food needs, thanks to the Find Food Illinois Community Food Map. This online tool was developed by SNAP-Ed in collaboration with the Feeding Illinois network, Midwest Food Bank network, and other state partners.

Challenge
Before Find Food IL, Illinois residents and state social service professionals had a hard time finding all nearby community food resources in one place. It required multiple phone calls or visits to websites to find information. Find Food IL changes lives by making it easy for Illinois residents - and those working hard to help them - find all available food support resources in one easy to use location.

Solution
Illinois SNAP-Ed worked with FoodFinder, Inc through a public-private partnership to expand an existing food locator platform to include new community food resources. In addition to locating food pantries and school and summer meal sites (in both English and Spanish), households seeking food support can search their community for the nearest grocery stores accepting SNAP or WIC, free meal sites, farmers markets, and roadside farm stands that accept SNAP, WIC, or senior food benefits. Illinois SNAP and WIC offices, where individuals can sign up to receive benefits, are also included in search results.

Find Food IL was successfully marketed and shared during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to be a valuable tool for the Illinois SNAP-Ed program. The statewide SNAP-Ed team provided printable materials to share with community organizations and for use at events like mobile farmers markets, school meal pick-ups, backpack programs, and in healthcare settings. In addition, a wide array of marketing graphics was developed for use on digital platforms, including social media. Partners can download the graphics and use them on organizational digital spaces, linking the graphics directly to the map for easy navigation. 

screenshot of the Find Food IL Community Food Map website for SNAP LINK WIC Find Food in your community at go.illinois.edu/findfoodil with images of a tablet and a smart phone

The Find Food IL platform engages communities in maintaining the map by using a crowd-sourcing feature. New resources or updates can be submitted by community members and partners.  

Since its inception in August 2020, over 7,000 Illinois residents visited the Find Food Illinois Map more than 13,000 times from their computers, phones, and tablets, reaching more than 350 Illinois communities. Additionally, the map has drawn nearly 2,000 users and over 5,000 pageviews from individuals and groups outside of Illinois who are interested in learning more about the resource. In FY21, printable materials were developed and provided to the statewide SNAP-Ed team to share with community organizations and for use at community events such as mobile farmers markets, school meal pick-ups, backpack programs, and in healthcare settings.

Sustaining success
Illinois SNAP-Ed continues to grow and expand access to the Find Food Illinois platform. They are working with local partners to host links to the service on agency websites, social media pages, and through downloadable marketing resources found on the Illinois SNAP-Ed partnership page. SNAP-Ed is also working with schools, healthcare partners, and medical professionals to incorporate the tool into food insecurity screening and intervention procedures. All map assets have been translated into Spanish. 


For more information contact Caitlin Kownacki

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