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DCMS creates legislation to fight hunger in Jacksonville

Wednesday, April 3, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Dr. Sunil Joshi, DCMS Foundation President
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By Dr. Sunil Joshi
DCMS Foundation President

 

The outcome of the 2017 Inaugural Future of Healthcare Conference was for the Duval County Medical Society (DCMS) Foundation to form a coalition to develop public policy regarding food deserts in Duval County.

After almost two years of discussions with city leaders and research into needs and locations, the DCMS Foundation is happy to report that with the guidance and assistance of the City of Jacksonville’s office of economic development, policy to incentivize a grocer to enter into a food desert in the northwest quadrant of Jacksonville has passed a hurdle though the general council’s office. The legislation will be presented to the Jacksonville City Council for the first time on Tuesday, April 9.

I shared the news with the Jacksonville community this past weekend on WJXT's "This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice." Alongside me was Rick Mullaney, a NEWS4JAX Political Analyst who is also the Founding Director of the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University.

After it's introduction next Tuesday, the policy will then be sent to committees for further review and likely come to the Council for vote in May. I have had preliminary discussions with many current City Council members and the response has been very positive.

"Food deserts are a critical problem that exist in our vulnerable neighborhoods. This problem lends to unfairness, to poor nutrition, thus wellness problems," said Matt Carlucci, City Council At Large Group 4. "This issue is squarely on my and other council members’ radars to find economic development opportunities in the adjacent opportunity zones to find incentives to help the placement of grocery stores!"

District 1 Councilmember Joyce Morgan also weighed in on the issue.

"A lack of access to fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables, can lead to a disproportionate number of health issues. Families should not be forced into food deserts because of their zip code or their family income," she said. "When Jacksonville invests in economic development as related to food deserts, we have an opportunity to help create a healthier and more productive community."

The Foundation Board of Directors and the team of volunteers on the Food Access Public Policy Coalition look forward to seeing this process move forward.

Ultimately, we will not be satisfied until a grocer takes a chance on a community that needs help: not just for healthy food options but also to possibly stimulate economic development in the region as well. We are excited about the future and have learned that the DCMS Foundation can do great things by building coalitions and working with like-minded groups.