Has your city made NJ’s proposed list for ‘food desert’ funding?

Has your city made NJ’s proposed list for ‘food desert’ funding?

You may still have the power to put your own city on a list of communities that will eventually split up to $ 240 million over the next six years in food security funding.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Tuesday released its draft list of the 50 communities it considers to be the “food deserts” most in need of financial aid.

Once the list is complete, the designated communities will be able to benefit from funding through the Food Desert Relief Act, part of the Economic Recovery Act, which was signed by Governor Phil Murphy in January 2021.

“We have taken a very broad approach to defining what a food desert means,” said Tara Colton, executive vice president of financial security at NJEDA. “The traditional definition at the federal level is pretty rigid, and it’s not really suitable for New Jersey, especially because of how close a state we are and how dependent we are on public transportation.”

The availability of a nearby supermarket is important, Colton noted, but it is not the only factor used to compile this initial list. The measurements used include income, poverty level, health characteristics, crime rate and walkability.

NJEDA’s list includes at least one community in each New Jersey county. Population sizes in the mentioned communities range from just over 1,000 to about 50,000.

Certain municipalities, such as Newark, occupy more than one place on the list because of their size and population.

Public feedback on the draft list will be accepted in early February. Concerned residents, business owners, lawyers and stakeholders can use this form to provide input. NJEDA is also holding online listening sessions on January 12 and 13 to gather feedback.

Proposed food desert community list (ranked by EDA in order of calculated need)

* indicates that the whole municipality is proposed

1. North, Central and South Camden / Woodlynne (Camden)
Atlantic City / Ventnor (Atlantic Ocean)
Newark South (Essex)
Newark West (Essex)
Paterson Syd (Passaic)
Camden East / Pennsauken (Camden)
Newark East (Essex)
Newark North and Central (Essex)
Passaic City (Passaic)
Salem City * (Salem)
Paterson North (Passaic)
Bridgeton / Fairfield Twp / Lawrence Twp * (Cumberland)
New Brunswick City (Middlesex)
Trenton City (Mercer)
Elizabeth East (Union)
Asbury Park City (Monmouth)
Jersey City South (Hudson)
Penns Grove * / Carneys Point * (Salem)
Perth Amboy City (Middlesex)
Irvington Township (Essex)
Elizabeth West (Union)
Union City (Hudson)
Lindenwold / Clementon * (Camden)
Lakewood North (Ocean)
Pleasantville / Absecon (Atlantic Ocean)
Red Bank Borough (Monmouth)
East Orange City (Essex)
Orange / West Orange / Montclair (Essex)
North Bergen / West New York / Guttenberg (Hudson)
Long Branch City (Monmouth)
Jersey City North (Hudson)
Jersey City Central (Hudson)
Woodbine Borough * (Cape May)
Millville / Commercial Twp * (Cumberland)
Keansburg Borough * (Monmouth )
Prospect Park / Haledon / Hawthorne (Passaic)
Paulsboro Borough (Gloucester)
Lakewood South (Ocean)
Fairview Borough (Bergen)
Linden / Roselle (Union)
Egg Harbor City * (Atlantic Ocean)
Burlington City (Burlington)
Vineland City (Cumberland)
Plainfield City (Union)
Phillipsburg by (Warren)
Bayonne by (Hudson)
Dover by (Morris)
Bound Brook Borough (Somerset)
High Bridge Borough (Hunterdon)
Montague Township * (Sussex)

The draft designations have been developed in collaboration with the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, with input from the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health.

“We have an obligation as heads of state, and as human beings, to ensure that no New Jerseyans go to bed hungry, regardless of their socio-economic status,” said Lieutenant Sheila Oliver. “By making one of the most comprehensive food desert designations in the country, we are leading the nation in taking the necessary steps to eradicate food deserts and remove the barriers that prevent our state’s residents from accessing nutritious food.”

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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