Last March, the world changed dramatically for many in our community. Families suddenly found it hard to put food on the table as our city, state, and nation took actions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In response to the rising demand for food resources, I launched the COVID-19 Food Delivery Taskforce. This group collaborated to align existing community resources and create safe and innovative ways to distribute food to families in need.
As a result of this partnership, our team helped launch a food delivery model with Farm Share, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), and the Jacksonville Housing Authority (JHA) that served 10 JHA properties in April 2020. This program reached approximately 1,900 households.
The Taskforce was also instrumental in a collaboration with the Jessie Ball duPont Center, Farm Share, Catholic Charities, and United Way of Northeast Florida that launched a pop-up, drive-thru pantry in Downtown Jacksonville. So far, this program has distributed nearly 400,000 lbs. of food to nearly 40,000 individuals.
I am proud of this amazing work accomplished by my team at the City and our community partners, but there is much more work to do. Families in our City are still struggling to recover from the pandemic, and others continue to live in areas of town without easy access to fresh, healthy foods.
In the continued efforts to support the people of Jacksonville, address food deserts, and create a healthier community, I am proud to announce that we are expanding the Food Delivery Taskforce to create the One City-One Table Partnership.
This partnership will be focused on creating a community framework to connect Jacksonville families to food resources while maximizing our ability to reach and distribute to as many people as we can.
This effort includes the recently announced partnership with Feeding Northeast Florida to bring mobile food markets into area food deserts, and JTA’s Door to Store program that provides free rides to grocery stores for residents in their Northside ReadiRide zone (City Council is currently considering legislation to expand Door to Store for another year and into other areas of town.)
When stakeholders work together with a common goal like this, amazing things happen. I am confident that we have the people, resources, and focus needed to best serve the people of our city.