Rev. Kent Dorsey, Former Co-President of ICARE has felt called to do justice all of his adult life. Thirty years ago he worked with his denomination on national legislation to protect the poor’s access to food and to support small family farmers who were dropping like flies – often times by taking their own lives instead of losing the farm. Rev. Dorsey visited his Kansas Congressman’s Office hoping to get his support for this pressing problem. However, the Congressman laughed Rev. Dorsey out of the office saying “everybody knows that you can’t make it farming.” One idealistic, young minister had NO power. Thirty years later, he is happy to show up at a similar office . . . with a few thousand friends so we can systemic change within Jacksonville’s economic system.
Problem: People in the Soul District, centered at Myrtle and Moncrief only make a middle income of $19,000 a year, which is a third of what people in Duval county as a whole make; meanwhile, they have no grocery store in the neighborhood to buy their basic necessities, so people are forced to choose between feeding their families from corner stores or spending their income on transportation in order to shop at a real grocery store. (NJCDC, 2016).
Our Solution tackles two problems. People in the Soul District need access to higher paying jobs that help them save for retirement, own a home or send their children to college (Build wealth). They also need access to basic human necessities like fresh food. A grocery store will stop the flight of people relocating to other communities with basic amenities. That is why we are working with community partners to get a neighborhood owned grocery store opened in the Soul District.
A Community Owned Grocery store allows employees and/or consumers to own a percentage of the business so they not only have access to goods or income from the business, but can also own it. They can take leadership in making decisions about the business and the store can’t leave the area once it is successful.
Every major food chain said no to this community, but this neighborhood deserves fresh food and quality employment. That is why we are committed to supporting the leadership of the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation in getting this store opened. Our hope is that this store will lead to much more business growth in this area.