Grant aims to reduce racial health disparities among Chicagoans

December 8, 2011

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The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a grant to improve access to healthy food for African American and Latino Chicagoans.

Those groups have higher rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And an $850,000 grant seeks to reduce health disparities. The money will be used for health literacy. Community health workers will use a curriculum to educate residents in food deserts – areas lacking fresh food options.

UIC's Sheila Castillo is working on the grant.

"What we also need to talk about is how do we get people to know what to do with the food once they get it? How can we help make a systems change so that we really are impacting and benefiting people across a wide range of the metropolitan area?" Castillo said.

Part of the discourse around food desert elimination is making sure there’s an educational component. If people have never had access to healthy food, they’re less likely to know how to prepare it.