500 Jacksonville families receive food to help curb hunger

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hundreds of local Jacksonville families have stocked pantries and fridges thanks to two local groups.

They provided a mobile food pantry for students and community members in need Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at A. Philip Randolph Career Academies located at 1157 Golfair Boulevard.

Food items including produce, bread, pantry staples and nearly 600 pounds of meat were distributed.

Photos: Volunteers distribute free food to Jacksonville community members

Stacy Beauchamp is a high school student from Terry Parker High School.

Like many others living in Duval County, her family has been struggling to put food on the table.

“My teacher, she told me about this and it was a wonderful idea to come help me out with my family,” said Beauchamp.

Pam Ross was on the first few people in line to get her food as lines of cars wrapped around A. Philip Randolph Academies.

“It’s just wonderful, it’s a blessing,” said Ross after seeing all the volunteers helping out.

According to Feeding Northeast Florida, Duval County has some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the state.

They say nearly 20 percent of families in Duval don’t know where they are going to get their next meal.

That’s compared to about 12 percent in St. Johns County and 13 percent in Clay County.

62 percent of the population in Duval lives below the threshold to receive benefits from SNAP or other nutritional program threshold.

“97 percent of the kids in this area and the students that we serve are on free and reduced lunch, and yes we have a lot of pockets of poverty in this area that still have to be address,” said Leon Baxton, the COO of Communities in Schools of Jacksonville.

That’s why the organization and Feeding Northeast Florida are partnering together to try curb the hunger issue and with the lack of grocery stores in the area, these people are getting fresh produce like carrots, potatoes, and lettuce.

That’s helping students like Beauchamp stay focus on things that matter to her now like school.

“It helps me concentrate a lot knowing i don’t have to continuously worry about where’s the next meal going to come from,” she said.