UF Health opens “food pharmacy” for patients with health issues, food insecurity

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UF Health is opening an office space that will house a partnership known as the Urban Health Alliance.

It’s a project helping our community’s most vulnerable people.

One local artist is giving back because he’s been through some struggles himself.

Malcolm Jackson is giving back to UF Health Jacksonville, the very hospital where he was born.

“I have a deep family connection to UF Health,” Jackson said.

Jackson grew up between Springfield and the East Side.

Now, he’s a photographer contributing his artwork to a new food pantry known as the “food pharmacy,” which is based out of the total care clinic.

“It’s truly an honor. As a kid that grew up in this area, that means the world to me,” Jackson said.

The food pantry is full of healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables. It helps address two things: health issues and also food insecurity.

It streamlines clinic and food resources so if a primary doctor identifies health issues like hypertension - or food insecurity - within a patient, they will issue a referral for that patient to come find meal options.

“They can actually help them improve their lifestyle as far as nutrition,” said Henry Robertson, Food Outreach Coodinator for UF Shands Jacksonville.

“This area is a food desert so having something like a food pharmacy can go a thousand miles,” Jackson said. He remembers that for his family, putting food on the table was tough sometimes.

“Just generally, just trying to feed grown boys. Growing up in the 90′s, inflation was jumping up and everything but just trying to make things happen,” Jackson explained. “My parents worked more than one job.”

Of the 10 most populated Florida counties, Duval has the largest inequality of health. So, people suffer from more illnesses.

To change this, Jackson wants families to use these resources.

“No child, no adult should go home hungry. There’s food out here for everyone,” he said.

Jackson hopes families will feel welcome by seeing themselves reflected in his photos.

“They can feel a sense of comfort at home,” he added.