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Press Release
December 19, 2023
5 minute read

NJEDA Awards First Grant Under Innovative New Program to Strengthen Food Security in Newark


FRIDG will fund installation of temperature-controlled grocery lockers to expand delivery options in NJ’s food desert communities

TRENTON, N.J. (December 19, 2023) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) awarded its first approval under the Food Retail Innovation in Delivery Grant (FRIDG) program today, which will help expand access to fresh groceries in Newark’s South Ward. The FRIDG Program, which launched earlier this year, allows food retailers to purchase and install temperature-controlled lockers to expand food delivery options for Food Desert Community (FDC) residents.

Brookdale ShopRite Inc, a family-owned business with ShopRite stores in Newark’s Central Ward and in Bloomfield, is the first food retailer to receive a grant under the FRIDG Program. They will use the $250,000 grant to purchase a temperature-controlled locker and install it at the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center in the South Ward. The “Newark South” FDC, one of 50 in the state, has a population of nearly 43,000, and is the third most acute food desert in the state.

Once the locker is installed, residents will be able to place online grocery orders from the Brookdale ShopRite, including orders eligible for purchase with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Brookdale ShopRite has also committed to waiving all delivery fees for groceries delivered to the locker.

“The FRIDG Program is another component of Governor Phil Murphy’s mission to support those living in New Jersey’s food desert communities by expanding access to fresh and affordable groceries,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Residents across Newark’s South Ward will now have more options for grocery delivery, reducing structural and logistical barriers that exist for many hardworking families. As we continue to combat food insecurity through creative and innovative initiatives, New Jersey remains a leader in the national fight against hunger.”

“Parents with small children, caregivers to the sick, people with transportation or mobility issues, the elderly, and those with health conditions often find it difficult to get to supermarkets for the widest selection of goods and prices,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “This innovative program brings a supermarket in one area of our city to the residents in another – and through the generosity of ShopRite of Newark, all delivery fees are covered. It is a beautiful example of how Newarkers harness ideas, technology and their concern for each other to level the playing field and make life easier in our city. I’m grateful to the NJEDA and its FRIDG Program, Neil Greenstein and ShopRite of Newark, and the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center for this perfect collaboration to help transform one of New Jersey’s food deserts into a bountiful oasis.”

Food retailers with at least one physical location in New Jersey can apply for up to $250,000 in funding to purchase and install self-contained, temperature-controlled lockers in one of New Jersey’s 50 designated FDCs. Eligible companies must be authorized to accept online orders paid with SNAP benefits. As of September 2022, there were nearly 790,000 New Jersey residents receiving SNAP benefits, including nearly 350,000 children.

In 2020, the NJ Department of Human Services (NJDHS) launched a pilot program to allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits to purchase groceries online. New Jersey SNAP recipients can now purchase groceries online from 19 retailers, but many FDC residents remain unable to receive groceries as they lack a reliable delivery location due to unpredictable work schedules, family obligations, or housing insecurity. The FRIDG lockers are intended to provide FDC residents with a safe, convenient location where their grocery orders – including fresh produce and dairy – will stay fresh until they are retrieved at a convenient time.

Neil Greenstein, owner of Brookdale ShopRite Inc., is a third-generation grocer whose family’s supermarkets have served Essex County for nearly 75 years. The company’s ShopRite of Newark opened its doors in September 2015 and has played a key role in the city’s revitalization efforts by creating economic and job training opportunities for residents, and through its support of community groups such as the Boys and Girls Club of Newark and the Greater Newark Conservancy.

“We are committed to increasing access to fresh and affordable food and supporting community initiatives that make a difference in people’s lives,” said Greenstein. “We’re excited about the opportunity to expand grocery delivery options to the Newark’s South Ward by participating in the FRIDG program, and look forward to deepening our connections with the residents of the vibrant city of Newark.”

The Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center provides support, care, and protection for women and their families going through crisis or transition. The Center, which is named in honor of Mayor Baraka’s sister, offers a number of programs and services that are facilitated by the City and several community partners.

“The Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center is a refuge for people who are in need of nourishment of every kind, starting with basic, deep human compassion. So offering our space as a place for neighbors to come pick up the food they need seems a natural expansion of what we do daily within our walls,” said Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center Director Dr. Pamela Jones. “Lessening the burden for people who can’t travel across town to shop is an easy lift for us, and one we are very happy and proud to do.”

“With this award, the FRIDG Program officially joins the growing list of resources New Jersey offers to help residents gain greater access to healthy, fresh food,” said Senator Theresa Ruiz and Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor-Marin and Shanique Speight (members of Legislative District 29) in a joint statement. “ShopRite of Newark’s locker will enable Newark residents to pick up the food they want when they can. The fact that the store will also waive all fees for deliveries made to the locker will go a long way to help New Jerseyans living in food deserts.”

“We are elated to see the FRIDG Program taking root in Newark’s South Ward, as we know how well it will be received and utilized by families that too often have to scramble to find fresh produce and other healthy grocery items to feed their growing families,” said Senator Renee Burgess and Assemblywomen Cleopatra Tucker and Jacqueline Yustein (members of Legislative District 28) in a joint statement. “The new ShopRite locker will provide parents affordable meal options that are also more easily accessible, and can become a model for other such efforts across the state.”

“The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) is proud that one of our members, Brookdale ShopRite, is the first to participate in NJEDA’s FRIDG program, which will bring food directly to residents of Newark who do not have easy access to a supermarket,” said Linda Doherty, President of the NJFC.

About the NJEDA

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses, call NJEDA Customer Care at 844-965-1125 or visit https://www.njeda.gov and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn

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