LIFT JAX offers non-profit grocery store and job training center in the Eastside – Action News Jax

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local organizations are working to bring healthy, accessible food to the Eastside, long considered a food desert in Jacksonville.

Expected within the next two years, the former Debs store on Florida Avenue will become a non-profit grocery store and vocational training center.

Community members look forward to the new project and the positive changes that will follow.

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“You know Bob Hayes stayed around the corner,” said Royce Fedd, owner of the Debs Store building.

Fedd has owned the old Debs Store building for over 18 years. He knows his way around the Eastside. So he knows how difficult it is to find healthy and affordable food.

“I have to go all the way to Harveys to get some milk for my grandson,” Fedd said.

The nearest main grocery store, Harveys Supermarket, is almost a mile from the old Debs store. Without a car, it can be a 30 minute walk for some.

Another Harveys, Winn Dixie and Fresh Market are even further afield.

This is why several local organizations are working together to bring the Debs store back and better than before.

“It will be an affordable and accessible place where people in the neighborhood can buy food,” said LIFT JAX President David Garfunkel.

LIFT JAX, Goodwill Inc. and VyStar Credit Union are teaming up to transform this building into a non-profit grocery store downstairs and a skills training center upstairs.

“It’s unique for Goodwill. This will be our first time to operate a grocery store, ”said Leah Lynch, Chef de Mission for Goodwill Industries of North Florida.

VyStar Credit Union will also set up an ATM in the store and offer other services.

“There will be financial services on the second floor where residents can come for financial advice and talk about financial literacy,” said Patricia McElroy, vice president of community leadership and outreach for VyStar Credit Union.

On Monday, the mayor’s budget review committee approved the submission of the legislation, essentially allowing LIFT JAX to seek a grant of $ 650,000 from the city.

LIFT JAX officials said the note will now be presented to the entire city council this month or next. They hope to innovate in the spring of 2022.

People like Fedd are ready for a fresh start in his community.

“It means so much to the Eastside and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” said Fedd.

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The plans are still being developed.

Officials said they don’t have an exact idea of ​​food prices yet, but we’re told they’re working with community partners to find competitive prices.

You can view the nonprofit grocery store memo here.

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Milton S. Rodgers