NJEDA establishes pilot program to provide up to $1.5M to improve food access and food security

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board on Wednesday 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 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.

“Reducing food insecurity serves as a critical component of building a stronger, fairer, and more equitable New Jersey economy,” said Gov. Pil 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.”

Tim Sullivan.

“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.”

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.