Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NW Jacksonville Council Members Looking To Address Food Deserts

Harvey's at 1012 Edgewood Ave. N.
Lindsey Kilbride
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Listen to the story airing on 89.9 WJCT-FM

With two grocery stores set to close about 10 miles apart on Jacksonville’s Northwest side, some city officials are concerned residents won’t have enough access to healthy, fresh food.

Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown are meeting with the community about the issue Thursday evening.

A big yellow banner in front of Harvey’s on Edgewood Avenue declares “Entire Store On Sale.” Along with the Harvey’s on Dunn Avenue, it’s in the process of closing as parent company Southeastern Grocers declares bankruptcy.

“Tonight we’re going to have a conversation,” Katrina Brown said. “We may have some solutions.”

For instance, she and two other council members are co-sponsoring a bill to appropriate $3 million from the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Trust Fund to incentivize supermarket owners to locate in the Northwest area, and to hire an expert in the grocery industry to help come up with a plan.  

“What we’re hoping to do is to hire a consultant,” she said.

Because it’s been a struggle getting grocery stores to open in some areas, like around Moncrief Road and Mrytle Avenue.

The non-profit Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation built a strip mall at that intersection and was planning a grocery co-op there, said CEO Paul Tutwiler.

“We have more than a five year journey in our efforts to bring a grocery store here and there are some lessons learned, best practices and sometimes ambitions and desires do not translate into actual projects,” Tutwiler said.

He said the nonprofit is now working to lure a traditional grocer to come in as opposed to a grocery co-op.

He said his nonprofit has cleaned up the land for potential grocers after working with the Department of Environment Protection and acquired permits.

“We’re saying by the summer of 2019, we expect a grand-opening,” he said, although he didn’t say if a specific grocer had expressed interest.  

Several Northwest zip codes, like Tutwiler’s, overlap with an area called Health Zone 1, known for health disparities including high rates of diabetes and heart disease.

Tutwiler will share about his efforts in getting his community fresh fruits and meats at the food desert meeting at Highlands Regional Library Thursday at 6 p.m.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.   

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.