NJEDA – Establishes a Pilot Program to Provide up to $1.5 Million to Improve Food Access and Food Security in New Jersey

Trenton, N.J. (April 13, 2022) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board today approved the creation of the Food Security Planning Grant Program, which will provide up to $1.5 million in grant funding to improve food access and food security in New Jersey. The program, which was established under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 (ERA), will competitively award grants of up to $125,000 to municipal governments, county governments, and/or redevelopment agencies that serve an area that includes a New Jersey Food Desert Community (FDC). The Food Security Planning Grant Program is NJEDA’s first pilot program designed to fund the development of plans to improve food access across the state’s FDCs.

Today, nearly one in 11 New Jersey households reports not having enough to eat within the seven-day week. Additionally, out of the nearly nine million people who reside in New Jersey, approximately one million live in an NJEDA-designated FDC. Ensuring access to nutritious, affordable, and culturally-relevant food is a key component in building a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy, as well as ensuring a sustainable local food system in every community. The Food Security Planning Grant Program is one tool that NJEDA will deploy to empower local government entities and redevelopment agencies to develop and submit plans to improve food access while transforming distressed assets that have presented a hindrance to economic growth.

“Reducing food insecurity serves as a critical component of building a stronger, fairer, and more equitable New Jersey economy,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “Creative, methodical approaches such as this planning grant position New Jersey as a national leader in the fight to alleviate food insecurity. By investing in local communities and entrusting local leaders, this program will develop solution-driven and geographically-appropriate plans that will serve New Jerseyans for generations to come.”

“It is often taken for granted that so many of us never have to worry when and where our next meal will come from,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “By approving the Food Security Planning Grant Program, New Jersey is taking a crucial step forward to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity in our communities. By providing funding for place-based proposals, NJEDA is advocating for each municipality, zip code, and family currently located within a designated FDC.”

“Currently, approximately 10 percent of New Jersey households report not having enough food on a weekly basis,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has taken a comprehensive approach to designate 50 FDCs. With this first step, we aim to design and deploy effective program, empower local communities, local government, anti-hunger advocates and others to begin thinking about place-based strategies which can lower the rates of food insecurity. Every New Jersey resident, regardless of zip code, should have access to healthy and nutritious foods, and today’s pilot program is a testament to our state’s commitment to ensuring that no community is left behind or forgotten.”

“NJEDA’s Food Security Planning Grant Program serves as a testament that in New Jersey, economic security is directly linked with the health and success of our communities,” said NJEDA’s Executive Vice President of Economic Security Tara Colton. “Access to healthy and nutritious food is not just a public health necessity, but is vital to community development. This program is an important step forward in the fight to reduce rates of food insecurity in New Jersey.”

Full details on the Food Security Planning Grant Program can be found here.

Article Courtesy of the NJEDA