Joint commission meeting to address food security, surtax

Grocery store fruits and vegetables
Grocery store fruits and vegetables
Thaiview via Shutterstock

A special meeting of the Gainesville and Alachua County commissions on Monday afternoon will tackle food security and a surtax extension that would benefit housing and infrastructure.

According to the agenda, the 3 p.m. meeting will start with a presentation about the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The update will focus on four blighted regions of Gainesville. The organization aims to help revitalize downtown Gainesville, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street, College Park/University Heights and Eastside areas.

A food security update will put the spotlight on city and county efforts to develop an interactive map of the local food system that includes food security support (food banks and pantries), food retail such as groceries, corner stores, markets and produce stands, processing and distribution, community gardens, and farms.

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Both the BOCC and Gainesville commissions agreed to reach out to institutions such as the University of Florida, UF Health, VA hospitals, North Florida Regional Medical Center, the Chamber of Commerce, Santa Fe College, and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ASO) to encourage them to join the effort.

Good Food Purchasing supports institutional food buyers. According to the meeting agenda, the program’s first phase would cost about $10,000 in FY21, with the second phase counting the same amount against the FY22 budget.

Once goals are established, the BOCC may adjust the agreement with the ASO to reflect the food procurement costs for the county jail in FY24.

County staff will design and build the food system mapping project, and any long term data updates may require additional resources.

In the plan, the Corner Store Initiative does not have a cost associated with it as of yet. Once an analysis is complete, staff will come back to the BOCC with a defined pilot project and estimated costs. These costs, shared with the City of Gainesville, would be associated with establishing a partnership with a retail operation providing a subsidy for point of sale systems, marketing, or local food procurement.

And finally, the commissions will discuss the potential extension of Wild Spaces Public Places—a half-cent sales tax voters approved in 2016—to include housing and infrastructure.

The public may attend and participate in this meeting virtually and in person. The public may also attend virtually through Cox Channel 12, Facebook, and the county’s video on demand website. The BOCC will take public comment in person, by calling 1-800-876-7516, or by emailing

Attendees must wear a facial covering at all times. Public seating will be made available up to the capacity that permits adequate social distancing.

For a full agenda and support documents click here.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the Wild Spaces and Public Places program.

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