Jacksonville’s urban core has limited access to the amenities that make a healthy lifestyle possible. Grocery stores. Farmer’s markets. Community gardens. Clean parks. Safe routes to school. Enticing playgrounds. Open greenspaces. Families in this area, referred to as Health Zone 1, don’t have these luxuries. What they have are the city’s highest rates of asthma, heart disease, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, deaths associated with AIDS/HIV, poverty and unemployment.
Jacksonville is one of 50 US cities receiving support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to implement a “Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities” project. The main objective is providing access to the amenities needed for health. The Duval County Health Department is the lead agency on the project, implementing the following initiatives:
- Establishing a food policy council to make recommendations for expanding access to the city’s food system.
- Connecting farmers markets to corner stores, churches, parks sites, schools and public housing and enabling food stamps to be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at those markets.
- Establishing joint-use agreements to allow the public access to school recreation facilities outside of school hours.
- Preventing crime by designing parks and recreation sites in a way that enhances safety.