Food Insecurity in Jax: How to Get Help

food insecurity

“Gracious acceptance is an art — an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving… Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.” –Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland

In the book Love Over Scotland, Alexander McCall Smith defines receiving gifts and support as art. We spend a great deal of time focusing on what we can give. While that is noble and vital, it is only half of the equation. Showing up in our community in valuable ways to share our gifts is a precious and wonderful thing. But the art of “gracious acceptance” is equally valuable and arguably a more challenging activity.

Forty-nine million people in the United States experience food insecurity. In Florida, that number makes up an estimated 23% of our population. Food insecurity can happen due to a family member getting seriously ill, an unexpected bill, or the sudden loss of a job. These and other circumstances can quickly leave people with the impossible choice between food and other necessities like medication, childcare, or utilities. Duval County has a higher food insecurity rate than Dade, Broward, or Hillsborough counties. It is an all-too-common problem. The good news is that long-established community resources are available if you find yourself in a season of food insecurity.

Feeding Northeast Florida

Feeding Northeast Florida is a beautiful resource. This organization partners with many other local organizations to ensure resources find their way to critical areas and populations. They offer an accurate time map that shows you what food distribution options are available and at what times. Their programs operate in churches, school buildings, and established brick-and-mortar sites. Feeding Northeast Florida also offers a Rolling Corner Store that brings fresh food resources to food deserts in our area and partners with the United Way and Veterans Affairs to deliver food to veterans experiencing food insecurity. Because of their broad coalition of organizations, you can find a snapshot of services that cover many areas of town and address specific needs.

BEAM: Jax Beaches

For those in the beaches area, BEAM is another local resource that serves the community in myriad ways. They offer a Hunger Relief program that helps get food and groceries distributed. Additionally, they offer case management and financial planning assistance for those experiencing food insecurity.

Hot Meals

If you need a provided hot meal, there are two options in Jacksonville. The first is Sulzbacher Center. A nutritious warm meal is made available to anyone hungry by this organization. Over 1,500 meals a day are served at the Sulzbacher Center. They offer three meals daily to those in short-term emergency housing and are open to the public twice daily. The second is the Clara White Mission’s “soup kitchen” service. The longstanding program focuses on caring for the unhoused and serves 400–500 people daily. Breakfast is served seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Each of these community-building organizations offers opportunities to support their ongoing efforts. These opportunities include opportunities to serve, share, or donate. If you are interested in volunteering or supporting their work, check out the available volunteer opportunities on their websites.

“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that — warm things, kind things, sweet things — help and comfort and laughter — and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.” –Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess
Stacy Mcdonald-Taylor
Stacy, a former health care program manager, came to the first coast by way of Charlotte, NC. Passionate for community and creative arts. Stacy has worked with families and educators through Parent Education & Outreach Programs. Since welcoming the births of her and her husband’s two delightful, energetic sons, she has worked from home, always seeking to find new ways to provide a joy-filled, creative environment, nurturing a love for people, learning, nature, and healthy, natural/organic foods. Stacy shares tidbits of her “life learnings” on her blog, Wasting Nothing


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