Hey, Mama Mobile Pantry supports Jacksonville babies, families – The Florida Times-Union

A new mobile pantry has begun making the rounds of “resource-limited areas” in Jacksonville, distributing free baby supplies, self-care products, health and nutrition education and other essential supplies.
The goal of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition initiative is to reduce infant death and improve the health of children and their families in Northeast Florida.
The “Hey, Mama Mobile Pantry” was unveiled Wednesday at James Weldon Johnson Park in downtown Jacksonville and had its first giveaway at Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corp. at 3416 Moncrief Road. “Hey, Mama” is a campaign to promote the coalition’s personalized, family support system.
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At the unveiling, coalition CEO Faye Johnson and other city and civic leaders discussed how “community-minded solutions,” such as the mobile pantry, can help address infant mortality.
“Mobile delivery of important resources has been gaining momentum across the U.S.,” Johnson said. “Meeting people where they live and work, sometimes in areas without adequate access to certain resources, means engaging with those who may not know organizations like ours are here to help navigate new parenthood and life in general.”
The nine-passenger van funded by the city of Jacksonville is equipped with diapers and wipes, formula, baby food, men’s and women’s toiletries and pregnancy tests, many of the supplies donated by the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association and Nemours Children’s Health.
Also onboard is a health educator, nursing students and coalition staff members trained to administer postpartum depression screenings and provide referrals for community resources including housing, rental assistance, baby care and stress management.
The pantry schedule is still being mapped out, but it will focus on the population in three ZIP codes that have the highest infant mortality rates in Duval County: 32208 and 32209 in Northwest Jacksonville and 32210 on the Westside. In 2021 the countywide rate was 6.7 for every 1,000 live births, compared to the statewide rate of 5.9, according to Florida Department of Health figures.
Those three areas also tend to have disproportionately high rates of poverty, crime and drug use. They also have substantial Black populations: According to the coalition, Black infants across the country are 2 to 3 times as likely to die in infancy compared to white babies.
The intent is to encourage more pregnant women, new mothers, their spouses/partners and other family members to enroll in free community programs and services designed to give their babies the healthiest start possible in life, according to the coalition.
“Access to care has increased in recent years through the [federal] Affordable Care Act but we still have barriers that continue to persist that negatively affect birth outcomes, especially in resource-limited areas,” Johnson said. “We’re working with our city leaders, employers and other community organizations to make sustainable changes so more families can live their best lives raising happy, healthy children.”
The mobile pantry joins about 2,000 other mobile units operating across the U.S. Those units, which include health care clinics, serve about 7 million at-risk people each year, according to the coalition.
To track future mobile pantry visits, go to nefhealthystart.org/calendar. For more information contact the Healthy Start Coalition at 751 Oak St., Suite 610, Jacksonville 32204; (904) 723-5422 or go to nefhealthystart.org.
bcravey@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4109


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