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food desert

The hunger relief non-profit Feeding Northeast Florida is partnering with the KIPP charter schools in Jacksonville to set up a permanent food pantry on its campus.

With two grocery stores set to close about 10 miles apart on Jacksonville’s Northwest side, some city officials are concerned residents won’t have enough access to healthy, fresh food.

Southeastern Grocers

It’s called a food desert. That’s when it’s difficult to buy affordable or quality fresh food, and it’s a major problem in Florida.

In west central Florida, about 60 percent of residents live either in poverty or more than a mile from a supermarket, according to Feeding Tampa Bay, a nonprofit food bank. 

Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center is pairing with the state to see if making fruits and vegetables available to children in areas with limited access to them can decrease their risk of cancer.

As part of Michelle Obama's healthy eating initiative, a group of major food retailers promised in 2011 to open or expand 1,500 grocery or convenience stores in and around neighborhoods with no supermarkets by 2016. By their own count, they're far short.

The promise of a new year often comes with a familiar resolution: eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and get healthy.

But for the 23.5 million Americans living without easy access to a grocery store, eating healthy isn’t easy.

One Central Florida nonprofit this week started bringing a mobile farmer's market into neighborhoods that need it.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The fight against hunger is getting a high-tech edge.  Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was in Bradenton today to announce a new program to make it easier to match food relief programs with hungry people.

Putnam helped local Future Farmers of America students unpack donated sweet potatoes during a hunger relief forum in Bradenton, sponsored by The Mosaic Co.

"So which school are you all from? Palmetto? Good to have you here."

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

You know the saying about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Now two USF students are hoping that “one apple” might help keep an entire neighborhood healthy.

Hector Angus and Andrea Little have opened 1Apple Grocery in Plant City, in part to provide relief in a so-called “food desert.”

"A food desert is an area where the residents don’t have access to fresh fruits, or nutritious foods," said Angus, who's pursuing his bachelor's degree in information technology with a minor in business.

"So that’s one of the problems that we’re trying to tackle with 1Apple is being able to provide the fresh produce for the families," added Little, who just completed her third year of medical school.

DeSoto County Food Bank is a Tale of Two Counties

Mar 23, 2014
Ian Cummings / Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Just next door to one of Florida's richest counties is a place where hunger and poverty grow worse every year. In DeSoto County, the state’s second-poorest county, aid workers say things have never been this hard. Jobs are increasingly scarce, cuts to food stamps are leaving more people hungry, and a high school has started operating a food pantry for homeless students.

Diane Campbell, a volunteer at a local homelessness nonprofit, is the first person many Arcadia residents meet when they seek help food and shelter. But she also depends on charitable food banks to get by.

Food deserts, areas where fresh and healthy foods can be hard to come by, are all over Florida. There are efforts under way in the Florida Legislature to provide tax incentives for grocers to open up in these areas.

Michael Rivera

Before the Florida legislative session starts March 4, Florida Matters is previewing some of the issues facing lawmakers this year: