Healthy Foods Builds Healthy Communities

Editor Note: On April 18, the Duval County Food Policy Council hosted its 3rd Annual Duval County Food Policy Council Summit, which focused on the farm-to-table movement North Florida. Over the next few weeks, the Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition ( will recap the summit by highlighting how the farm-to-table movement impacts childhood obesity in the community.

In Florida, 24 percent of children are living in poverty and nearly 1 in 3 children are considered overweight or obese. Poverty exacerbates poor health, often because families select processed food over fresh in an effort to extend their budget.

The American diet was once based on plants, fruits, veggies, and grains. Now we are animal based, and our caloric intake has increased from 2000 calories to nearly 2,800. By 2030, 51 percent of population will be obese and 25 percent of states have obesity rates above 50 percent.

There is a generation of people who have no idea where their food comes from. We don’t eat at the table and as a society, we are often too busy to make our own food. As a society, we are detached from the food system and have a generation of children that believe that a vegetable is grown in the supermarket.

With more food options and an unhealthy community, there is a growing movement to take back the control of our food system. Today urban agriculture is everywhere. In Jacksonville, there are more than 90 community gardens that supply fresh food in to community.   There is a strong relationship between growing your own food and its health benefits, including it tasting better, often cheaper and provides an outlet for exercise and community building.


“To grow your own food gives you power – you know who and why you grew it,” said Karen Washington. “You grew it for yourself, your family, and your community.”

According to Washington, there are several fundamental rights that are necessary to preserve and goals that must be achieved in order to develop a healthy food system:

  • The right to safe food and water
  • The right to have food labeled
  • The right to have food that is organically grown
  • The right to have no added pesticides or GMO in our food
  • The right for farm workers, fisherman, and restaurant workers to get benefits and a living wage to pay for the work they do and the product they produce
  • Entice businesses to sell and provide healthy food options in low income neighborhoods through tax breaks.
  • Eliminate antiquated laws that prevent people from obtaining land and growing food

The Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (HJCOPC) encourages its members and the community to take an active role in creating a healthy food system in North Florida by participating in the monthly meetings:


The Duval County Food Policy Council meets on the 4th Thursday of every month from 5:15 – 6:30 p.m. at the Florida Department of Health in Duval County.

The HJCOPC meets on the 2nd Friday of every month from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. at Nemours Children’s Clinic.

Follow the conversation online at #jaxfood



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