Closures of Jacksonville grocery stores could create food desert

Food bank losing distributor with store closure

It’s something we all take for granted – having easy access to food. But the closing of four local grocery stores is leaving thousands of people with nowhere to shop.

“No choice but to walk,” said Joseph Stokes, who is one of 5,000 people living in the 32254 ZIP code area who are considered food insecure, without sufficient access to affordable nutritious food. And many of them, like Stokes, have to walk or take a bus to get to the grocery store.

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“It’s hard, it’s hard,” he said.

Now Stokes and thousands of other families will have to find another place to get their food after Southern Grocers decided to close four local stores, including the Harveys on Edgewood.

“What are you expecting us to do now?” said Reshemma Green, a shopper.

“The closing of this particular closure at Harveys 32254 makes this a food desert when it once was not,” said Frank Castillo, president at Feeding Northeast Florida.

Castillo said the closest grocery store for neighbors will now be the Save-A-Lot, about a mile and a half away.

“They don’t have the variety that Harveys has,” said Stokes.

“When they get shut down, now I have a bigger problem,” said Castillo.

Castillo said his organization received food from those four stores to feed families.

“We calculate that the impact of those four stores shutting down is 150,000 meals,” he said.

But he says they are increasing the amount of farm-fresh produce they receive from partner farms, and increasing their intake of healthy dry foods from partnerships.