The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has awarded nine grants totaling over $1 million to seven county and municipal governments to support the development of plans to improve food access and food security by leveraging and repurposing distressed assets in New Jersey’s Food Desert Communities (FDCs).
Established under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, the Food Security Planning Grant Program provides grants of up to $125,000 to municipal governments, county governments, and/or redevelopment agencies to fund development of plans to decrease food insecurity in designated FDCs. All of the grants that have been awarded thus far have gone to entities servicing seven of the top 20 FDCs, including three of the highest-ranked FDCs (Camden, Atlantic City and Newark), which have the greatest acuity of need.
“Connecting every New Jerseyan with equitable access to nutritious food is a core component of Governor Murphy’s strategy for building a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said. “Through the Food Security Planning Grant Program, we are providing funding to help local government leaders design creative and sustainable reuses that transform their distressed assets into resources that will aid in the fight against hunger and support local economic development.”
The Food Security Planning Grant Program is one tool that the NJEDA is deploying in order to empower local governments to develop and submit plans to improve food access while transforming distressed assets that have historically hindered economic growth.
NJEDA Executive Vice President of Economic Security Tara Colton noted that the NJEDA will leverage the findings and outcomes from awardees’ plans to help develop and deploy future comprehensive food security initiatives and economic development across the state while equipping municipalities with the tools to think about how to repurpose distressed assets.
“Thanks to Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature, we have $300 million in resources that enable us to take a comprehensive approach to addressing food insecurity,” Colton said. “This robust toolkit to combat hunger includes innovative community-driven initiatives like this planning grant and our Sustain & Serve NJ program, which gives grants to local organizations to buy meals from local restaurants and distribute them for free into the community. It also includes tax credits to build new supermarkets in food deserts and our innovative Food Retail Innovation in Delivery program to broaden access to a booming grocery e-commerce industry.”
The following planning grants have been awarded through the program:
Atlantic City (two grants in different parts of the city), #2 ranked FDC: A $125,000 grant will be used to pay costs associated with planning the development of Midtown Co-op Market. Additionally, an $89,000 grant will help plan the development of Mighty Uptown Food Pantry.
City of Camden, #1 ranked FDC: A $125,000 grant will support preliminary building plans and a market feasibility study to develop a state-of-the-art multi-purpose food market, eatery, and indoor farm facility.
Newark (two grants in different parts of the city), #3 and #8 ranked FDCs: A nearly $125,000 grant will pay for the development of a business plan for a new food co-op in the City of Newark. Additionally, Newark intends to use a grant of approximately $112,000 to complete a feasibility study and identify the best use of ground floor retail space in an existing parking deck to increase food security.
City of Passaic, #10 ranked FDC: A $125,000 grant will be used to develop the Passaic City Food Access and Security Action Plan, which will provide a framework for the successful transformation of the selected distressed property into a thriving supermarket center of the Eastside Neighborhood.
Passaic County, #15 ranked FDC: A $125,000 grant will be used to develop a feasibility study for a supermarket, food retailer, or farmers market to be located within a mixed-use development site in Paterson.
Penns Grove, #20 ranked FDC: A $100,000 grant for a feasibility study for a full-service grocery store.
City of Salem, #9 ranked FDC: A $125,000 grant will be used to conduct a feasibility study to bring food from local producers to Salem residents to boost the local supply chain for the region.
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