Launched in 2009 with a $3 million investment from the NJEDA and managed by the Reinvestment Fund (TRF), the initiative seeks to increase the supply of affordable fresh food in underserved areas while working to improve health outcomes and spur economic development, which in turn helps the foundation combat obesity, particularly among children. To that end, the initiative provides low-cost loans and grants to supermarket operators and developers statewide, with an emphasis on ten priority cities: Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick, Paterson, Trenton, and Vineland.
The investment in the program by RWJF was announced in conjunction with the release of a special report, Expanding New Jersey's Supermarkets (22 pages, PDF) from the New Jersey Food Marketing Task Force, a diverse group of stakeholders that worked over the last year to craft a comprehensive plan for supermarket development in the state. Among other things, the report argues that New Jersey should reduce regulatory barriers that impede the development of supermarkets and expedite permits and licenses for new stores in high-need areas.
"Time and again, we have seen how low-cost capital can help supermarket operators and developers overcome the challenges associated with opening new stores or expanding existing stores in underserved communities," said TRF president and CEO Don Hinkle-Brown. "Supermarkets not only increase access to affordable, healthy food but also serve as critical economic anchors and job creators in low-income communities."