Jacksonville City Council serves up food desert fix

On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council unanimously approved a program advocates hope will address food deserts in large swaths of the city.

Bill 2019-245 creates what is called a “Full-Service Grocery Store Improvement Program” in Northwest Jacksonville, under the auspices of the Office of Economic Development.

In a Council committee last week, OED head Kirk Wendland said the program had to be in the Northwest Quadrant, for a grocery store of 10,000 sq. foot or more and in or adjacent to a food desert.

This bill amends, approves and adopts a new Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Incentive Program entitled Full Service Grocery Store Improvement Program; provides for the development of Food Desert Pilot Programs; and providesfor City oversight by the Office Of Economic Development.

This is the outgrowth of legislation from last May, which appropriated $3 million to explore solutions to the issue. A consultant was hired to develop an incentive program for supermarkets, with the idea of offering healthier choices for residents of local food deserts.

The consultant recommended a “Full-Service Grocery Store Improvement Program” and “Food Desert Pilot Programs.”

Full-service groceries include fresh and frozen meats and vegetables, in addition to staple processed foods and baby formula. The pilot programs, responses to changes in food delivery in recent years, include “mobile markets,” participation

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