What is a Food Desert? And Why is it Important?
What is a food desert?
According to the US Department of Agriculture, food deserts are specific zip codes, neighborhoods or communities and “often feature a large proportion of households with low incomes, inadequate access to transportation, and a limited number of food retailers providing fresh produce and healthy groceries for affordable prices” – meaning they may have access to food, but none of it is healthy.
Why is this important?
People living in an area designated as a food desert tend to have a drastically lower life expectancy than people living near healthy food options. In an article with Action News Jax, LIFT JAX showed that your zip code mattered more than your genetic code, with people in Ortega having an average life expectancy of 80 years old and people in Durkeeville having an average life expectancy of 67.
What’s being done to help in Jacksonville?
- Organizations like Feeding Northeast Florida, Lutheran Social Services, BEAM, and more serve as food pantries to those in need.
- LIFT JAX is working to restore the Debs Store, a store that had been open for over 90 years providing fresh food and healthier options in the Eastside. Without this store, the Eastside is currently considered a food desert.
- Blue Zones is in Jacksonville for a 5-year project working with the city and local partners to have healthier options throughout all zip codes.
- WeCareJax delivers fresh produce and essentials biweekly to patients with complex diagnoses like cancer (all patients are uninsured and living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level).
Find out more about food deserts and the organizations doing their best to make sure there are healthier options everywhere in Jacksonville, by clicking the links above.