For twenty years Publix Grocery store held a space at Gateway Shopping Center providing food options to the Brentwood community. The 28,000 square feet of space was thought to be the saving grace for the area that had been classified as a food desert. Thousands of residents in the area were stunned when learning of Publix unexpected departure. In response to the public outcry of the loss of their local store, Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG), parent company of Winn-Dixie and other grocery stores, will open a new Winn-Dixie store at the former Publix location.
Winn-Dixie’s decision to lease and renovate the existing space was made possible through a collaborative effort including a $850K grant from the City of Jacksonville to offset capital build out costs associated with the redevelopment of the property.
To further support the Brentwood community during construction, the Winn-Dixie Gives Foundation will host free, weekly mobile food pantry events to support the community. Four market-style food pantry events will take place each Saturday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Jan 18, 25 and Feb. 1 to feed up to 300 families each, first come, first served. These food donations will equate to more than 6,000 meals for northwest Jacksonville neighbors in need.
Winn-Dixie will hold onsite interviews to fill various full- and part-time positions Monday – Thursday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. inside the store. Applicants are encouraged to apply online before attending and reference “108” in the keywords field.
A food desert if define by the federal government as an urban are where at least 500 residents, or at least a third of the population , live at least a mile away from a full-service grocery store or market that sells fruits, vegetables and fresh meat.
City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, whose district includes the store site, lauded the public-private partnership that resolved the crisis.
Reggie Gaffney, District 7 councilman, said, “I know my community and know there is a real need for someone to fill this void and prevent a food desert in this area. I am thankful to Southeastern Grocers and Winn-Dixie for stepping in to fill this critical need and provide relief to these people,” he said. “I am also thankful to my colleagues and the administration of Mayor Lenny Curry for their support in making this happen.”