The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee Tuesday approved a bill that may alleviate food desert conditions in one of the city’s most challenged areas.
2018-195 will, if passed by the full Council next week, approve encumbering $3 million from the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Trust Fund to recruit grocers or other “food options” to move into the area, which is about to see two grocery stores close.
The money will pay for a consultant, and will potentially provide up to a 25 percent grant for a vendor. As well, other incentive programs may be presented by said consultant as an alternative.
Discussion in a public notice meeting last week balanced the goal of opening a store with the reality that the reason that the stores are closing to start with is that there wasn’t enough business to make them profitable.
Those concerns resurfaced during discussion Tuesday, with suggestions including food trucks delivering groceries to the needy. Discussion revealed a fundamental disconnect between Councilors on the bill, with Finance Chair Garrett Dennis noting that a delivery solution may not work for many of those in the affected areas.
As a result of the discussion, the other food options were added, beyond brick and mortar groceries.