NJEDA’s Commitment to Food Security- Increasing Access to Healthy food

Connecting every New Jerseyan with equitable access to nutritious food is a core component of Governor Murphy’s strategy for building a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy.  NJEDA, along with its partners in government, business, nonprofits, and the community, is dedicated to increasing and improving access to nutritious food.

Where we live has a major impact on our overall health and wellbeing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture describes food security as access by all people at all times to sufficient nutritious food for an active and healthy life. This basic need is still not met for all New Jerseyans. Food insecurity impacts all racial and ethnic groups and geographic regions of the state. Communities with high concentrations unhealthy food options, while lacking traditional grocery stores, have been shown to have higher rates of chronic diseases. Currently, nearly one in ten children experience food insecurity in New Jersey, which can have negative impacts on their current and future physical and mental health and academic achievement.

To address these challenges, NJEDA’s programs aim to promote a more inclusive, scalable and collaborative approach to ensure improved access, consistent availability, and increased utilization of nutritious foods.

Several of NJEDA’s food security programs were established through the Food Desert Relief Act (FDRA). The FDRA is part of the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 (ERA), a package of tax incentive, financing, and grant programs Governor Murphy signed into law in January 2021 to address the ongoing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and build a stronger, fairer New Jersey economy. The FDRA addresses the food security needs of communities across New Jersey by:

  • Requiring NJEDA to take a comprehensive view of New Jersey’s food access landscape and designate up to 50 Food Desert Communities in New Jersey, and
  • Providing up to $240 million in tax credits, loans, grants, and/or technical assistance to alleviate food deserts.

The goals of the FDRA are to:

  1. Facilitate development, construction, and sustainable operations of new supermarkets and grocery stores
  2. Strengthen existing community assets by equipping them with the necessary equipment and infrastructure to provide healthier food options
  3. Help food retailers respond to the shift to e-commerce, including for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC)
  4. Identify and foster solutions to alleviate food insecurity

NJEDA consulted with the Departments of Community Affairs and Agriculture to designate 50 Food Desert Communities (FDCs) that have limited access to nutritious foods. On February 9, 2022, NJEDA’s Board formally adopted the FDC designations, taking a critical step towards addressing challenges around food access, food availability and nutritional value. More than 1.5 million New Jerseyans reside in FDCs, which span a diverse range of communities in all 21 New Jersey counties.

The FDC designations will be used to determine eligible project locations and/or recipients for assistance under the FDRA, as well as other NJEDA food security programs, such as FRIDG and Food Security Planning Grants.

More information:


Atlantic City Food Security Grants Pilot Program
Food Desert Relief Supermarket Tax Credit Program
Food Desert Relief Tax Credit Auction
Food Retail Innovation in Delivery Grant (FRIDG)
Food Security Planning Grant Program (CLOSED)
Sustain and Serve NJ (CLOSED)

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