24 areas in Jax lack healthy food access

Areas pressed to find affordable fruits, vegetables and grains

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Using data from nearly 89,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce, the Environmental Working Group compiled a list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, called the "Dirty Dozen."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Centers for Disease Control has identified two dozen Jacksonville neighborhoods as communities that lack access to healthy foods.

They've labeled these neighborhood food deserts because you'll be hard pressed to find affordable fruits, vegetables, and grains to create a well balanced diet.

Where to go for a healthy lunch or dinner has been a challenge for Rick Bowles whose been working at Quality tires for decades.

"It would be nice to have a nice restaurant where you could get some decent foods, especially in this area," Bowles said. "You have to go out to the Northside or the other side of town."

Bowles' Northside neighborhood is just one of 24 communities that lack access to affordable nutritional foods according to the Centers for Disease Control. Locals said the food options are fast but they're not necessarily healthy, leading to increased rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

"As far as whole grains and nutrition in this area, no sir," Bowles said.

"I think that what we're seeing in Jacksonville has been going on for a long time," said Carol Kartsonis with Friends of Northeast Florida Community Gardens. "As our city has developed, a lot of businesses are following the new development out. We're seeing a lot of our urban core, a lot of those business are still leaving. The people are still there. The markets still there."

Kartsonis said one solution is to teach residents how to grow their own foods in the empty lots along neighborhood streets.

Ronald Pauline is a community volunteer and has been growing a community garden with fruits and vegetables for more than a year.

"I do know from all I read and have heard that fresh vegetables go a long way in alleviating serious health issues," said Pauline.

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