Newark to provide $2M in grants to fight food insecurity, food deserts

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced Thursday that the city of Newark will invest $2 million to support community-based organizations to combat hunger and food insecurity through Nourishing Newark Community Grants.

With the great disruptions to the global economy, many low-income Newark families are experiencing a greater degree of food insecurity than ever before, city officials said. The Nourishing Newark Community Grants Program seeks to spur the creation and expansion of sustainable urban food cooperatives, and other community-based healthy food distribution channels.

How to apply

Applications for the $2 million Nourishing Newark Community Grants will be accepted until 5 p.m. March 17. The city will hold an informational meeting about the program at 1 p.m. March 2. Register here.

For more information and to apply, click here.

The program aligns with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority Food Desert Relief Program designed around the central purpose of eradicating food deserts. A “food desert” is a geographical area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. Newark has many such areas.

Baraka said the city is happy to help with such a pressing issue.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the city of Newark has distributed more than 8 million meals to residents in need with the help of Hello Fresh, Newark Working Kitchens and Newark Public Schools,” he said.

“We understand the challenge many families face when it comes to putting fresh, healthy food on the table, and, through the Nourishing Newark Community Grants Program, we are inviting nonprofit organizations, for-profit entities, schools, urban farmers, community gardeners and others to work with us in meeting this ongoing community need.”

The American Rescue Plan is the source of funds for this initial round of community grant funds. Awards under this round will be for up to $350,000 to Newark organizations and coalitions.

The program is administered by the city’s Office of Sustainability. To be eligible for the grant, entities must have:

  • A physical establishment and/or programmatic focus to residents of Newark;
  • Programming dedicated to combating food deserts, improving fresh/healthy food access (esp. in EDA-identified food deserts) and/or providing food assistance to households experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19.

Eligible project categories include:

  • Growing and urban agriculture: This funding category helps community-based growers, urban farmers and gardeners in Newark to 1) expand or significantly improve their production of fresh, healthy food; and 2) make it available to families experiencing food insecurity, either directly or through partner relationships with pantries and other free or low-cost distribution entities.
  • Regular dommunity distribution: This funding category helps ensures regular community access to free, fresh produce. The applicants will ensure that their nonprofit, school or co-op is engaged in the regular (weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.) distribution that eliminates barriers to healthy food access (e.g., lack of transportation options, limited mobility, etc.).
  • Training and community education: This grant category seeks to leverage and multiply the knowledge base and expertise of Newark’s rich network of urban growers and sustainable food experts. Activities can include workshops and training activities around local farming and/or educating community members around culturally appropriate healthy cuisine and food preparation.