The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines a "food desert" as follows:
"areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet."
The Healthy Food Financing Initiative, per the USDA, has this to say:
"...a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store."
According to the Florida Times-Union, approximately 7 percent (62,000) of Duval residents have inadequate access to healthy food. This is higher than the national average of 5 percent. The main criteria revolves around the distance between residents and grocery stores, and the number of grocery stores and supermarkets per capita.
Also of note: part of the criteria for being labeled a food desert relates to household income. Therefore, an area with higher incomes where residents are much further away from supermarkets does not qualify as a food desert.
Federal research shows residents of food deserts are more likely to have trouble eating healthier, because they have less access to healthy food, and are forced to rely upon fast and/or convenience foods more often.
In a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin, Duval county ranked 46th out of the 67 Florida counties for overall health and wellness. The same study also lists Duval county's obesity rate at 27 percent, higher than both the Florida and national average.