Clara White Mission giving away food to families living in food deserts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As part of a random act of kindness food giveaway, volunteers from BNY Mellon and Ally Banks helped feed families in need at the Clara White mission earlier today.


Downtown, Springfield, and Northwest Jacksonville are large areas where supermarkets that provide fresh produce and meats are lesser in number and are farther away from potential shoppers. Earlier today, the Clara White Mission continued its work in helping those in need.

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Action News Jax’s Jimmy Marlow spoke with Blondell Graham and Verdie Gamble who both live downtown, and say that there is only one option for them to shop for groceries. When Marlow asked, “Where is the next closest grocery store to where you live?”, Verdie Gamble replied, “Oh, Gateway, Gateway Shopping Center, that would be the next one.”

Blondell Graham agreed, “They’ve got some on Main street, but all of those are far from where we are.”

Both women took advantage of the Clara White Mission’s 7th food giveaway earlier today. They are 2 out of 2500 plus recipients so far this year of fresh produce, meat, canned goods and more.

Read: New Town Urban Farmacy tackles food desert, welcomes kids to learn

Michelle Maule, the Marketing Director and Community Liaison for the Clara White Mission says that the goal is to be a resource to anyone who needs their assistance.

“We do this once hear at the mission and once at our farm in northwest Jacksonville, and we hope that the word gets out there so that people know we are a resource for them,” Maule said.

The USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas was last updated in December of 2022, and it defines low access to healthy food as being far from a supermarket, supercenter or large grocery store. The map shows that there are food deserts across the city and also that the area of Northwest Jacksonville into downtown is littered with areas that are “low-income census tracts.” These are areas that at least 500 people in an urban area are more than 1 mile away from such resources, or greater than 10 miles for a rural area. The Clara White Mission aims to be a resource for those in need in these areas.

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Maule reiterated the Clara White Mission is a hub for veterans, the homeless and families in need.

“We know that between Northwest Jacksonville and the downtown area that people still struggle to get food, struggle to afford food,” Maule said. “If they’re homeless we have prepared meals, if they’re low income we have the food pantry, we have the farm where they can get fresh produce.”

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The Clara White Mission is always looking for volunteers and community partners, so if you’d like to get involved in helping those in need, or if you need resources, click the link to their web page here.