White House COVID-19 response team looks at Jax food disparity

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A White House COVID-19 response team gathered at Impact Church today to discuss how COVID has impacted more than just healthcare here in Jacksonville.

Dr. Cameron Webb is part of the COVID White House response team. He said COVID showed how many issues many communities were actually facing.

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“This has been an epidemic of challenges with affordable housing or challenges with youth violence or challenges with food insecurity. That is the context (in) which COVID takes place,” Webb said.

He added another shocking bit of information about a problem here in Jacksonville: the lack of available food

“I wanted to come in with food insecurity statistics in Jacksonville but those are pretty hard to measure at this point just because of how much they have changed.”

The panel agreed that few workers, higher gas prices, and fewer charitable opportunities means food has become harder to come by.

“All kinds of things that we just don’t think of as fallout from COVID,” Webb said.

Farm share distribution says they have seen a growing number of families in need of food.

Feeding Northeast Florida says there are 117,700 food insecure people in Duval. Over 20 million meals are required to fill the gap. Their president Susan King said they gave millions of pounds of food this spring - but have not gotten any since.

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“While difficult and unexpected, for those of us that were distributing and those of us that were sipping some of that food, it was extremely important to the tune of about an additional 10 million pounds that went into our community,” King said.