Daytona Beach is a Food Desert?
Limited access to supermarkets, supercenters, grocery stores, or other sources of healthy and affordable food makes it harder for some residents of Daytona Beach to eat a healthy diet. There are many ways to measure food store access for individuals and for neighborhoods, and many ways to define which areas are food deserts. Most measures and definitions take into account two things: 1) the location of low income census tracts and 2) access to affordable products in those census tracts.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has mapped food deserts across the country. Click below and enter Daytona Beach as your location to see our food deserts highlighted.
A community has to be inventive in solving the problem of a food desert. If it were profitable for a typical supermarket to locate there, they would have. Sometimes the answer is many small efforts that create a big impact when brought together. In the Midtown neighborhood, several groups have stepped up to fill the gap. Steve and Sandra Miller opened a fresh produce market in the first floor of their accounting business; unfortunately it didn't draw the patronage to maintain the service. John Baldwin at the office of the Chaplain at Bethune-Cookman University organized a student-operated garden to grow and deliver fresh vegetables to elders in the community. Churches have opened community gardens. Discount grocers have edged closer to the neighborhood, but aren't there yet. On beachside, less is underway. There is no supermarket between Daytona Beach Shores and the Bellaire Plaza, nearly in Ormond Beach. For folks without personal transportation, that adds a visit to the transfer plaza to their already lengthy trip.
That's why C4RD found specialists who have succeeded with developing grocery markets in a challenging urban environment. They have set up a non-profit to share that information, and we advocated to bring them to Daytona Beach. The city agreed, instead, to use Cornerstone Ventures as an intermediary and commission a feasibility study from them specifically focused on Midtown. The finding of the study are that Midtown can support a grocery store IF initial costs are subsidized (at least no cost land acquisition) and IF it includes the right mix of prepared foods together with the standard grocery operation. The study and its conclusions have apparently been shelved, as nothing has been heard since it was submitted. As an ancillary project, Cornerstone Ventures offered to link the city with an urban farm that was looking to expand from its current Jacksonville site, but no interest was expressed by City staff.